Skip to main content

Full text of "Peter Moor's journey to Southwest Africa; a narrative of the German campaign"

See other formats

This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at jhttp : //books . qooqle . com/ 

E! [S56C5eSfflP3SEffiE5aHSHBS-5SKffi-3SRa 3 

The Hoover Library 


















This book is dedicated with tender and loving memo- 
ries to the cause which the translator hoped it might 
aid, the cause for which she was always ready to 
give her abounding strength, and to the service of 
which she brought the wisdom of a loyal nature 
and a noble mind, — to the cause of PEACE. 

A. H. W. 


I have always felt that all war stories dwell too 
much on the glory and glamour of war,, and too 
little on the hardships and horrors and the unneces- 
sary cruelty of it ; and so when I read a little German 
book about the Southwest African war of 1903-04, 
I wished that every one else might read it. To me 
it was absorbingly interesting and beautifully told. 
This summer I have translated it in the hope that 
it will affect other people as it affected me. 

Mabgabet Mat Wabd. 
Temple, New Hampbhebe, 1907. 


I. Petes enlists .... 1 

II. Peteb volunteebs fob Africa 6 

ILL The Voyage 12 

IV. Br Railway to the Capital . . 88 

V. The Journey inland on Foot . . 54 

VI. Brothers, or Slaves? ... 66 

VII. Peter is promoted .... 81 

VIII. A Memorable Easter . 91 

IX. Destitution and Misery . . . 107 

X. Homesickness and Fever 114 

XI. Civilization and a Bath . .124 
XII. Another Expedition 134 

XIII. A Dangerous Mission . 155 

XTV. The Flight op a Nation 173 

XV. A Dry and Thirsty Land . .189 

XVI. The Limit of Endurance . . 198 

XVII. Last Days in Africa . .236 



When I was a little boy I wanted to be a 
coachman or a letter-carrier; that pleased my 
mother very much. When I was a big boy I 
wanted to go to America; then she scolded 
me. So when my school-days were at an end 
I said one day that I should like best to be a 
sailor; then she began to cry. My three little 
sisters wept, too. 

But on the day after I left school, before I 
knew really what was happening to me, I was 
standing at the anvil in my father's shop, and 
our apprentice, who had strayed out of Saxony 
to us and had already worked a long time 
with my father, was saying to me: "See! 
there you stand, and there you will stand till 


you are gray" ; and he laughed. As we had a 
good piece of work, making a gate and paling 
in front of a fine new building on Broad 
Street, I was contented, and remained three 
years in my father's workshop and worked 
with him and the apprentice, and went even- 
ings to the trade-school. Twice I took a first 

In the second year of my apprenticeship, when 
I was seventeen years old, I met Henry Gehlsen 
on the street. I sometimes used to play with 
him as a boy. He was the son of Gehlsen the 
teacher, who had formerly held a position in 
our school and was now a principal at Ham- 
burg. Henry was some years older than I and 
was a student at Kiel. While we were walking 
together down Breitenburg Street, he told me 
that he wanted to enlist in the autumn of 1903 
for a year in a naval battalion. I asked him 
why he wanted to enlist in that especially. He 
replied: "It is fine company. And then, too, 
it is possible that one can travel at the expense 
of the government, for if an insurrection 
breaks out in any of our colonies, or if any- 


tiling is the matter in the whole world, the 
naval force is the first of all to be called out." 

I did not say anything further on the sub- 
ject ; but I thought to myself that I also might 
later go into the marine corps. I had already 
been several times at Kiel and I liked the uni- 
form. What he said about traveling across the 
seas pleased me too. But at that time I didn't 
know how I was going to bring it all about. 

One day, in the following year, I learned 
from an older schoolmate who was serving at 
Kiel in the 85th regiment, that the navy was 
enlisting volunteers for three years. That same 
evening, while I was clearing up and my father 
was passing through the shop with his short 
pipe in his mouth, to look out on the street a 
little, as he always did of an evening, I asked 
him if I should apply. That pleased him, for 
he had served with the 31st in Altona till he 
had reached the rank of non-commissioned 
officer. He said nothing more than, "Your 
mother will be frightened at the word 'sea/" 

"Yes," I said; "she has the three girls, 


"Go and put your case before her/' he 
said; "she is in the kitchen." 

Meanwhile she had come out of the kitchen 
into the shop, and she said, as if she mistrusted 
something : "What are you two putting your 
heads together about?" She suspected some- 
thing because it was the night before a holi- 
day and the work was done. 

My father replied : " The boy wants to vol- 
unteer for the naval corps in Kiel. You must n't 
be afraid. It 's called the sea-battalion because 
it has to protect the coast fortifications. And 
besides, if he does n't volunteer he may be 
sent to the Russian frontier, and that is a long 
way off." 

She went silently into the kitchen and said 
nothing more about it. But in the fall she 
gave me my clothes all whole and clean, as 
they should be, and mostly brand new. And 
she was quite contented, because Kiel is sq 
near Itzehoe. Our storekeeper, who had rela- 
tives in Kiel, had told her, too, that many sons 
of good, skilled workmen serve in the marine 



I liked being a soldier, especially when we 
had our training behind us. We had nothing 
but a good sort of fellows in the room, and the 
subordinate officer was disagreeable only when 
some one was lazy or dirty. The lieutenant we 
did not judge rightly in those days. After* 
wards, however, we learned that he was a hero. 
In the beginning of my second year of ser- 
vice, in the Christmas holidays, 1903, 1 was 
spending my furlough with my parents at 
Itzehoe, and I danced at a ball the night after 
Christmas with Marie Genthien. I had known 
her as a child, but had never met her since. 
I did n't even know that for two years she 
had been out to service in Holtenau Street in 
Kiel. When we were dancing together for 
the third time we laughed and said, both at 
the same moment, "That goes well!" We 


neither of us had the slightest thought that 
anything serious would come of it. On the 
day after New Year's I went back to Kiel, to 
my service. 

Two weeks later — it was the fourteenth of 
January — I was walking with Behrens and 
another comrade through Danish Street, when 
Gehlsen, who was now really serving his year, 
and in my company, came toward us and said : 
" Have you read the paper ? " 

"What is it?" I said. 

" In southwest Africa the blacks, like cow- 
ards, have treacherously murdered all the 
farmers and their wives and children." 

I am good in geography, but at first I 
was completely bewildered and asked : " Are 
those murdered people Germans? " 

" Of course/ 9 he replied, " Schlesians and 
Bavarians and all the other German peoples, 
and three or four from Holstein, too. And 
now what do you suppose we marines — " 

Then I suddenly recognized from his eyes 
what he wanted to say. 

" We have to go ! " I said. 


He raised his shoulder. "Who should, if 
not the marines ? " said he. 

I was silent a little while ; a great deal was 
going through my mind. Then I was done 
with thinking, and I said : " Well, then we'll 
at it ! " And I was glad. 

As I went along I looked at the people 
who were passing, and I wondered if perhaps 
they knew and if they could see in us that we 
were going to the Southwest to he revenged 
on a heathen people for the German blood 
that had been spilled. 

One morning it really came to the point. 
The major made a long speech in the court- 
yard of the barracks. This and that had 
happened out there. A regiment of volunteers 
was to be sent out. Who would go ? Nearly 
all of us stepped forward. The physicians ex- 
amined us to see if we were fit for service in 
the tropics. They found me capable of ser- 
vice. That same afternoon we had dealt out to 
us the high yellow boots and the short blue 
jackets or litewkas. Thus equipped we went 
immediately into the city. 


What a bowing and calling to one another 
there was then ! Though usually soldiers who 
do not know one another pass without so 
much as a greeting, this time we were spoken 
to by everybody. The 85th were very reserved 
because they had to stay at home ; the sailors 
spoke with dignity, as if every one of them had 
already traveled three times around the world. 
Many citizens spoke to us, too. They said it 
would be a very interesting journey and would 
be a pleasant memory for us as long as we 
lived, and they wished us a safe return. 

The next day, when we were to take the 
train at night for Wilhelmshafen, father and 
mother came over from Itzehoe for two hours. 
I met them at the station and walked with 
them along Holsten Street as far as the 
Schlossplatz. My father asked all sorts of 
questions: whether there were wild animals 
there; whether the enemy all had guns, or 
whether they still used bows and arrows; 
whether it was very hot and malarial there, and 
such things. I could n't answer very much 
to all this because I did n't know much about 


it. I took it for granted, however, that it was 
all as he said, and agreed with him in every- 
thing. We sat for an hour in a restaurant 
near the station, looking out of the windows 
at the people who were passing, but we 
did n't talk much. My mother hardly spoke 
at all. She stared at the floor with great set 
eyes, and, when she looked up, regarded me as 
though she should never see me again. When 
it was time I took them back to the station. 

When the train for Hamburg came, and 
they had to get in, my father begged me to 
bring him home some trifle, — a horn, or some 
ornament worn by the enemy, or some such 
thing. I believe he had saved up his request 
so as to have something to say at the last mo- 
ment. But my mother suddenly threw her 
arms about me and held me, weeping. As she 
had n't embraced me since my earliest child- 
hood, t was startled, and said : " What are you 
doing, mother ? " 

She replied : " I do not know whether I 
shall see you again, my son." 

I laughed and shook her hands, saying: 


"There is no danger. I shall come back 
again." The parents of Behrens were at the 
station, too. 

When I came back in the dark to the bar- 
racks, everything was alive there. Parents, 
brothers and sisters, relatives, sweethearts, and 
friends had come. They were dancing, drinking 
and talking. Among them was one old man who 
had worn the Iron Cross since 1870, and was 
now a foreman at the dock ; his boy was going 
out with us. He stood up and spoke a few 
words about bravery and fidelity to the flag, 
just as if we were to fight a serious enemy, 
and we enjoyed listening to him. Yes, indeed, 
at his words we became all fire and flames and 
readily forgot that we knew we were going 
to fight against crossbows and clubs of wood. 
We wanted to fight honorably, and, if it had 
to be, even to die for the honor of Germany. 

At midnight the battalion formed and we 
marched through the city with a full band. If 
I live to be a hundred years old I shall never 
forget that hour, when thousands of people 
followed along with us, pressing into our 


ranks, calling out to us, greeting us, waving 
and throwing flowers at us, and carrying our 
arms all the way to the station. The square in 
front of the station was black with people. 

On the journey to Wilhelmshafen I slept 
and dozed. The others were tired, too. When, 
we arrived, I went with some others into a 
small restaurant and bought for a great deal 
of money a very little poor food. At four in 
the afternoon we formed again and marched 
double-file, fully equipped, down the long 
narrow flight of steps leading from the quay 
to the deck of the ship, gazed at all the time 
by crowds of people gathered from all the 
country round. It was a clear, bitter cold, 
winter day. 



We went down two short flights of stairs and 
came into a rather large, low room, which was 
filled with an amazing number of beds. They 
were arranged close together in pairs, one 
above and one below. Very narrow passage- 
ways ran between them and along the wall. I 
got a lower berth. 

We now pnt on onr beds everything we had, 
our firearms, knapsacks, and clothes-bags. We 
packed and bustled about among our things, 
and from time to time looked out the port- 
holes at the water. We were lively and in 
good spirits, as soldiers always are in new 
quarters, reminded only by the continual 
tremor felt throughout the ship from the mo- 
tion of the engine, that these quarters were 
carrying us far away. We ate at long tables 
on one side of the same room, and that night 
we had pea soup and coffee. 


Later I went upstairs for a little while, and 
stood by the rail in the lee of the first cabin 
and looked over to the coast. In the darkness 
I saw only a yellowish, blurry glow from the 
ship-lights on the black, restless waves, and 
in the distance some motionless lights, prob- 
ably those of lighthouses or lightships, and 
in the heavens the stars. Then I became op- 
pressed by the thought that I should be carried 
off and could not help myself, and that I 
should have to endure all sorts of frightful 
things in a foreign land. I got help by swear- 
ing to God that I would be good and cheerful 
and brave, whatever happened to me. 

The next morning, as far as the eye could 
reach, there was nothing but the dark, gray 
ocean. On the horizon there were some clouds 
of smoke and some little sails. We went on 
deck for roll-call, and each of us got a uniform 
of light brown linen called khaki, and a great 
pot-shaped, light brown cork helmet, called 
a tropical helmet. We laughed and admired 
each other, then went to our sleeping-room 
and tried on our helmets amid all sorts of 


nonsense. After that we fastened buttons on 
our uniforms. 

We stood a great deal at the portholes, 
looking out, and were occupied all day ; some 
of us were already writing picture post-cards. 

Late in the afternoon I stood for a long 
time forward in the bow with Henry Gehlsen 
and talked with him about our childhood. 
Then some other one-year volunteers came 
up, among them a physician, as I afterwards 
learned, and began to talk to him. As they 
were soon talking of learned things I went 
off. As time went on I was often with him. 
He was small in stature, and had a delicate 
face ; but he was every inch a man. Later, in 
the bush, he showed himself prudent, inge- 
nious, and brave. 

On the second day we stood at the star- 
board rail and looked over to the coast of 
England, which rose mighty, steep, and rugged 
out of the water not far off ; and we watched 
the fishing-boats, which, with their gray and 
black sails, lay in great numbers on the broad, 
ever-moving ocean. As I looked at this great, 


extended picture, I thought that in just such 
or even smaller vessels our forefathers had, 
thousands of years ago, traversed the same 
rough way that we now followed, straight over 
the waves, or rather between them, and I 
imagined the wild struggles that they had to 
go through before they had built their huts 
and found a home on these forbidding shores. 
I thought of all this, and was glad that I had 
had such a good teacher and that I was prob- 
ably the first of all my schoolmates at Itzehoe 
who had seen this part of the world with his 
own eyes* 

While I stood there the staff physician 
passed me, and with him the first lieutenant 
of the marines. They were going, probably, to 
visit a sailor who was sick. We had on board 
an officer in command of the sailors who was 
going out as a substitute to the Habicht. They 
stood a while at the railing not far from me, 
and I heard the first lieutenant say to the other 
man : " We seamen think differently about the 
Englishmen from the people who live inland. 
We meet them in all the ports of the world 


and we know that they are the most respect- 
able of all the peoples. There behind the high 
chalk cliffs dwells the first nation of the earth, 
— distinguished, wise, brave, united, and rich. 
As for us — well, one of their qualities, bravery, 
we have had for ages ; one other, riches, we 
are slowly acquiring. Whether we ever acquire 
the others — that is our life problem." I won- 
dered over that speech, but afterwards the 
old African settlers, whom I came to know, 
also spoke with the greatest respect of the 

The weather was cold, clear, and windy. We 
saw small boats tossing up and down on the 
waves, but our great ship didn't roll much and 
only a few of us were a little seasick. I could 
n't bear to look up the long deck and see how 
it slowly rose and then sank. It seemed to me 
bo unreasonable and unreal, and it gave me 
an oppressed feeling in my head and body. It 
had the same effect on others, too ; but when 
I pulled myself together and straightened up 
and walked up and down, looking out over the 
sea, it passed off. When we got out of the 


English Channel, though, opposite the realm 
of Spain, it suddenly got bad. 

I was just standing thinking by my bed 
with Gehlsen near me. We were both looking 
at a picture of his parents which they had 
given him to take. At that moment the floor 
suddenly pushed itself up diagonally under 
our feet, while a fearful creaking and smash- 
ing and falling and shouting began on all sides 
of us. We fell over each other onto the bed and 
tried in all directions to find some firm hold. 
With some difficulty we got on our feet again 
and clung to the iron posts which supported 
the berths, while the other side of the ship 
went way up against the opposite row of beds. 
We tried to get away from between the rows 
of beds as though that would be our salvation ; 
but I had taken only a few steps when I be- 
gan to feel just as I did when I was twelve 
years old and had just smoked my first cigar. 
A heavy feeling of oppression weighed on my 
head and my stomach came up and up, right 
into my throat. My courage and all desire to 
live vanished and drops of sweat fell from my 


forehead. Stumbling and wretched, I went 
back down the passage and flung myself on 
my bed. It was lucky that I did n't have to 
get into an upper berth. 

It was a bad night. Whenever I think of it 
now, after two years, it gives me an awful feel- 
ing, and I have to swallow. My ! what gagging 
and vomiting on all sides ! Many moaned as 
though their last day had come. Just one fel- 
low, who probably had drunk sea-water from 
his nursing bottle, or in some other way had 
acquired the stomach of an ostrich, laughed 
aloud from time to time and was cheerful and 
in good spirits; just as if an angel among 
hordes of the damned were laughing in its 
beautiful and safe blessedness. 

When I woke, towards morning, out of a 
dull, heavy sleep, it was somewhat smoother. 
Still, many were groaning. He of the cast-iron 
digestion was whistling softly and comfortably. 
Then I was angry and scolded myself. I sum- 
moned all my will-power, and noticed the 
rising and falling of the ship, and thought to 
myself : " See ! Here it goes and there it goes ! 


It can't do otherwise, and everything on it and 
in it must go, too, and there is nothing to 
be done to prevent it. It is nonsense to buck 
against it. Go with it. That 's it I Can't you 
go any further? Then back again. That 'sit! 
No further? Then back again to the other 
side." Talking that way to myself, I began 
to feel brighter. I listened to the fellow with 
the cast-iron digestion and observed that in 
his whistling he was keeping time with the 
motion of the vessel. 

Then I noticed that I was better and at the 
same time that the air in the room was hor- 
rible. I sat up in bed very deliberately and 
cautiously put my feet down. Three times I 
got on my feet and three times I sat down 
again. Then I went stumbling along slowly 
and as carefully as if I had a stomach made of 
thin glass, and arrived safely outside. I fell 
against the rail, and clung to it with both arms 
while I breathed the fresh air and stared dully 
and stupidly into the gray twilight. 

And then, while I stood there, mindful of 
the throbbing of the ship and its heavy roll, 


and staring at the huge, rushing, foaming 
waves, I had a piece of great good luck. I saw 
an immense sailing-vessel gliding along not far 
from us. With all its monstrous sails set it lay 
over before the wind, so that in the gray morn- 
ing light I could see the whole deck and the 
helmsman wrapped in a thick coat sitting com- 
fortably on the skylight with his short pipe 
in his mouth. The ship rose and fell heavily 
and powerfully from bow to stern. Out of two 
of the windows came a bright glow. So the 
mighty vision passed in the gray dawn, down 
the wild dark path of the sea, without sound or 
effort, beautiful, as though filled with a great, 
peaceful soul. I have never seen anything 
more beautiful made by man. It made me well. 
It grew warmer now every day, not because 
spring was coming, but because we were going 
south all the time and the sun's rays fell more 
vertically upon us. The sea was smooth, the 
sun shone, and we were very busy every fore- 
noon. A beam had been set up at the stern 
with a target fastened to it for us to shoot at 
with our new rifles. The officers shot, too, with 


revolvers, and each one bragged about his own 
weapon. Afternoons we sat about on deck 
cleaning our guns or washing and mending 
our clothes, and we talked and sang while we 
worked. Evenings we sat in a circle and told 
barrack-room stories, or each one told some- 
thing about his own home. Some of them 
could declaim pieces that they had learned or 
made up. All this went on in High German, and 
they teased us from Holstein because, they said, 
we took the letter "s" between our teeth as if 
it were a needle. I was glad that all the na- 
tives of Schleswig-Holstein on board happened 
to be good, orderly men. There are, of course, 
even in our province, troublesome people. 

We naturally talked a good deal about the 
near future, and it made us angry to think 
that the insurrection might perhaps be subdued 
before we arrived, and we should n't even leave 
the ship. We wanted at least to land, so that 
afterwards we could tell at home about the 
African forests, the herds of monkeys and 
antelopes, and the straw huts under the palms. 

Some of the men played " skat" all the time, 


their enthusiasm continually waxing greater 
and their cards dirtier. It made no difference 
to them what was going on around them. 
They never looked up, whether we said to 
them, " Here, you fellows ! see the flying-fishes ! 
they are wheeling just like a squadron ! " or 
" A big English steamer is coming ! " or " Just 
look up and see what a fine sunset ; the whole 
sea is gold and green and the waves have dark 
blue crests ! " or " We see the back of a whale ! " 
or " Have you seen the phosphorescence? just 
go to the stern and see the waves all full of 
warm, red fire"; they would just shake their 
heads impatiently, or say, " Go and look at it 
yourself," and play on. They were not playing 
for money. 

There were quite a good many young boys 
among us, twenty years old or younger. I think 
many of them were pretty homesick. And some 
of them, it seemed to me, were frightened at 
the newness of everything they saw. Every- 
thing was so astounding to them, almost un- 
canny, and they got more and more silent. I 
used to wonder how these young, quiet ones 


would do if we went into a really hard war. 
We went afterwards into a really hard war, and 
every one of them made a splendid record for 
himself. Others sat in a corner and practiced 
by the hour to get up a band. One had a comb, 
another had clappers, a third whistled through 
his fingers, our musicians contributed flutes 
and a drum, and a little Schlesian was the 
leader. It was he, too, who always started the 
songs which we sang together every evening. 
There was one song we used to sing that rang 
out sadly far over the water: "Nach der 
Heimat mocht' ich wieder ! " To this day, when 
I see in memory the faces of those who used 
to sing it, my heart stands still and I have to 
press my lips together. 

It was getting warmer and sunnier all the 
time, and we had reached the entrance to the 
Strait of Gibraltar. We took off our blue 
clothes and put on our khaki things. All the 
time, day and night, the ship throbbed with 
the motion of the engine as the human body 
does with the beating of the heart. God knows 
how many times the wheels revolved. 


So we went on, always to the south, with 
the sea always sunny and glistening. I was 
astonished that the world was so big. One day 
I saw by the chart, which hung in the compan- 
ionway, and on which our position was marked 
each day, that we should soon come to the island 
of Madeira. And indeed, very early the next 
day, when I went to take a look around on deck, 
where many were already assembled, there lay 
before us, not far away, a bright-colored island. 

Bough rocks rose stern and bald before 
us, and the middle ones wore as a crown the 
broad old fortifying walls. In front a rather 
large city, with white, flat-roofed houses, 
stretched itself back toward the heights at the 
foot of the old fortification till it was lost in 
luxuriant green, in forests and fields of flowers. 

We were coming nearer this wonder all the 
time. We stood and marveled, and glided into 
the bay just as curious children edge up to a 
picture-book, until we lay directly before the 
city. Then we heard shouting and calling 
under us, and looked down into boats close by 
the ship, which were filled with men looking, 


with their dark skins and brilliantly colored 
clothes, like Italians. They stood in the 
boats and held up baskets of fruit and called 
to us ; but we did n't buy any thing, for we 
knew that we should land. 

In the afternoon I went, with a lot of others, 
down the narrow wooden steps that were let 
down over the side into one of our big boats, 
and was rowed ashore. How novel and gay 
everything was! Our lieutenant had said to us 
in warning : " I want to say one thing to you. 
Don't go and buy everything you see. Not 
everything that is bright is beautiful or real. 
And look out how you drink the wine." But 
it was n't long before groups of twos and 
threes were standing in the low, wide-open 
shops buying blouses and shawls made of glis- 
tening silk, in the most lovely colors, for sisters 
and sweethearts. And they called to me : " You 
must get a souvenir to take home, Moor. Per- 
haps the insurrection will be over and we 
shan't land. If you say afterwards at home 
that you were with us and have nothing to 
show, no one will believe it." That seemed 


reasonable, and I went in and bought two little 
silk scarfs for my two oldest sisters, for I had 
no sweetheart and my mother would never put 
on anything so bright. As we were coming out, 
the same lieutenant who had said so grandly, 
" I warn you," came by, and he already had a 
package in his hand. I had to laugh a little, 
and he did, too. 

It was just as though we all, upon landing, 
became intoxicated with a charmed wine: 
everything shone in such splendid colors, the 
sun seemed so beautifully bright and soft, and 
all the people were so happy. I thought to my- 
self : " Keep your eyes open and see what you 
can ; who knows if you will ever again get so 
faraway from home?" I went through several 
streets and wondered over everything I saw, 
even over a long-eared horse that was going 
along in front of his truck, till I realized 
suddenly that it was a mule such as I had 
sometimes seen in pictures. I looked at the 
foreign words on the signs over the shops and 
I learned some of the names on the wares. I 
watched the women, with their gay head and 


shoulder shawls, and the men, who wore bright 
scarfs around their bodies, and I was surprised 
at the pride shown in the lines of their mouths 
and at the dark fire in their eyes. A soldier 
came along, a handsome fellow, but wearing a 
slovenly uniform. He raised his hand to his cap 
and looked at me in a friendly fashion, and I 
greeted him in the same way. 

After I had walked about alone awhile, I 
came down again to the shore and found some 
of my comrades sitting in an open wine-room, 
close to the street, almost on the sidewalk. 
They were at little tables, zealously writing 
picture post-cards and drinking at the same 
time from small glasses. I sat down with them, 
ordered a glass, and wrote a card to my par- 
ents. I wanted to write one to my uncle in 
Hamburg, but I did n't get to it. I had to 
look around me all the time. My mother had 
often scolded me for my curiosity when I used 
to open every box and drawer in her work- 
table ; but when she once complained of this 
to my teacher, he laughed and said : " That 
is desire for knowledge." 


After a time some of our men came by 
singing noisily and reeling a little. I begged 
the others to go along. The landlord, in a 
red waistcoat and shirtsleeves, didn't know 
a word of German, but he did know the Ger- 
man money. When I saw the lieutenant stand- 
ing on the quay, I was curious to know if he 
had bought the nice wine as well as the pretty 
shawls; but when I came near him I could 
see that his eyes were drunk only with all the 
beautiful gay, friendly things he had seen. 
For a whole day, when we were again on the 
ocean, I saw in a dreamy memory the hand- 
some people walking on the gay, sunny streets, 
and in the background the soft hills rising in 
their lovely fresh fertility. 

On the third morning after this I was stand- 
ing, rather early, by the rail, waiting for the 
morning drill and looking off over the water, 
absorbed in thinking whether I could discover 
in the distance one of the Cape Verde Islands, 
in the neighborhood of which we were. It 
seemed a useless search, for it was still misty. 
Then Behrens, who was standing near me, 


looked up suddenly, and said : " Look there ! 
What an extraordinary white cloud that is ! " 
I looked up, and saw high in the sky a heavy, 
motionless, snow-white cloud, with a soft sheen 
on it like white feathers. I stood gazing and 
thinking, " What a wonderful cloud that is ! " 
when Gehlsen came running forward, quick as 
he always was, and said, in his brisk, daring 
way : " Do you see it already ? Look ! That is 
the Peak of Teneriffe. It rises out of the sea 
to that height and its summit is white with 
snow in the burning glare of the sun." I was 
so startled that I trembled, — it took such a 
hold upon me, this marvel that God had set 
here in the midst of the broad expanse of 
water under the scorching sun. We all stood 
and gazed, some speaking aloud, but many of 
us silent ; and as we looked we saw the mist 
up there on the monstrous height part and re- 
veal the smooth, horribly steep rocks which 
were piled one above another like huge old 
ramparts. On the topmost broad, crumbling 
wall lay the eternal snows, Slowly we glided 
by the stony base. 


We were still going south night and day. 
It is wonderful how big the world is. The 
hand slips easily and quickly on the map from 
Hamburg to Swakopmund ; but how the en- 
gine works, monotonously, untiringly, day and 
night, for three long weeks ! What strength 
and will men have, who are willing to go so 
far away to live and trade and explore and 
govern ! 

We had target practice now every morning 
and popped away by the hour. We drilled a 
little, too, and the spirit was always good. We 
were steering southeast to the African coast, 
where we were to take on board, in passing, 
seventy negroes, as most of the ships do which 
go to Swakopmund. These negroes are stokers 
and trimmers and helpers of all sorts on the 
way down, and they load and unload at Swa- 
kopmund and then go back again with the 
ship and are set ashore on their own coast. 

On the seventh day after we passed Tene- 
riffe, we saw the coast of Africa rising. It was 
just exactly as we had imagined it, — pretty 
huts under palms, many beautiful tall trees on 


gently rising slopes; and it swarmed with peo- 
ple. That all these people were black we could 
not then see. 

When we were at no great distance, Gehlsen 
came and told me that the fathers and grand- 
fathers of these negroes had been slaves in 
North America, and that the government there 
had brought them back to their home again 
and was helping them to maintain a free re- 
public. When he had told me this, he went 
forward to see better, for we were getting 
pretty near now ; but I ran down to the cabin 
to write a card, for the mail was going ashore. 
While I sat absorbed in my writing I heard such 
a shouting and exclaiming and stupid shrieking 
and such a slipping and pulling and sliding 
that I sprang up and went out. I was so aston- 
ished that I stood staring with my mouth open, 
for over both sides were climbing like cats and 
writhing like snakes, the negroes, old and 
young men and little boys. They were tall, 
black, and half naked, with large exposed 
teeth and wild, laughing human eyes, wearing 
about their breasts and bodies little bright- 


colored cloths and carrying sacks and pots 
and chests. They ran joking and laughing 
over the deck, quite unmindful of our amaze- 
ment, and crawled down in the hold, where 
they established themselves. We lay to, at 
that place, only a few hours, and then went 
on again, always to the south, day after day 
and all through the bright nights. 

On one of these days I went up to the third 
engineer, who was a native of Eckernf ord, and 
asked him to take me down to the engine- 
room. We went through many passageways 
and rooms which I did not even know were 
there, and down short iron staircases which I 
had n't seen, getting deeper and deeper into 
the hold, where it shook more and more vio- 
lently under my feet, and where I could hear 
the heavy movement of the great shafts and 
pistons more and more plainly. Then he opened 
an iron door and I stood before the engine. 
The biggest engine I had ever seen up to this 
time was one in a brewery in Hamburg. This 
one was five times as big, with pistons as long 
and broad as the body of a ten-year-old boy. 


They swung easily in the cylinders, and the two 
mighty shafts, on the ends of which are the 
screws, revolved busily. A man in middle life, 
rather fat and oily, whom I had never seen 
before, although we had lived now three weeks 
on the same boat, stood quietly on a grated 
iron platform, which trembled violently, and 
looked about him in the midst of all the rising 
and falling and driving machinery as placidly 
as a farmer in a cow-barn surveys his munch- 
ing herd. I went, also, carefully along the 
platform and down a flight of stairs through 
an open trap-door, to the reddish-brown fur- 
nace-room, in which half-naked men were 
standing surrounded by coal, iron-barrows, 
and hissing valves, in front of the boilers 
under which the great fires glowed. I looked 
sharply and quickly around and would gladly 
have stayed longer, but I felt ashamed to be 
idly watching those men working so hard in 
the hot room. 

In my free time I used often to watch the 
black men, and I noticed how peacefully they 
sat together and talked in gurgling tones, and 


how they squatted around the great pots of 
food, stuffing quantities of rice into their 
mouths with their fingers, and devouring with 
their great, beast-like, crunching teeth their 
meat, bones, and all indiscriminately. It did 
not seem to occur to them to eat anything 
on account of the taste, but merely to fill 
their stomachs. It seemed to me like this : 
that the people of Madeira, although they are 
strangers to us, are like cousins whom we 
seldom see ; but that these blacks are quite, 
quite. different from us, so that there could 
be at heart no possible understanding or re- 
lationship between us. There must always be 
misunderstandings instead. 

As at the beginning of the journey, we 
talked now a great deal about our expectations, 
about the palms and the monkeys we should 
see, and the hides and the birds and the 
baskets we should take home. We spoke again 
about the probability that the rebellion would 
be over before we got there. 

As we came near the equator there was a 
lot of joking about it. Those who were a little 


embarrassed or dreamy were teasingly told to 
look out and see the line on the water, and 
to hold on tight when we went down hill, and 
all that sort of thing. I took no part in 
this teasing, for I am not inclined that way 
and I was sorry for the fellows who were the 
butt of it. They were, indeed, far from being 
stupid and thoughtless ; but often those who 
made sport of them were the stupid and 
thoughtless ones who were always talking big. 
So I used to draw their ridicule to myself and 
pretended not to see it. If I wanted to I could 
shake off the dogs, and I used to laugh to 
myself over their barking and biting. Toward 
evening we began to sing, and oftenest we 
wanted to sing the third stanza of a well- 
known song which rang out beautifully over 
the darkening ocean: — 

Dooh mein Schicksal will es nimmer, 
Durch die Welt ich wandern muss. 
Trantes Heim, dein denk' ich immer . . . 

At night it was almost intolerably hot in 
the cabin. Some of the men scolded about 
it, but the more reasonable understood that it 


could n't be otherwise. If any one once woke 
up it was nearly impossible for him to go to 
sleep again. Once, when I was lying there 
sleepless and restless, it seemed to me that the 
little Schlesian — the one who liked to sing 
and who sang so well and whose berth was 
close at my right hand — sobbed aloud. When 
I asked what was the matter he was silent at 
first and then said, in a gentle, quiet voice : 
"This traveling is getting tiresome, don't you 
think so? Always, day in and day out, I don't 
know how many miles — it does n't seem pos- 
sible that we shall ever find our way back." 
Then he lay quiet again. 

On the seventh day after the negroes had 
slipped over the rail, a sailor told us in the 
morning that we should reach Swakopmund 
that day. So we stood by the hour at the bow, 
looking out; but a fog hid the coast. Toward 
noon, however, the fog lifted, and we saw on 
the horizon some great steamers and behind 
them an endless strip of reddish-white sand 
lifting itself out of the ocean. The harsh, glar- 
ing sun burned down on the dunes and sea, 


and we thought at first that it was a bar 
which lay off the shore so that the great city 
of Swakopmund and the palms and lions 
would n't get their feet wet; but soon, when 
the fog had entirely receded, we saw in the 
glittering light some white houses and bar- 
racks and a lighthouse on the bare sand. Then 
all stood amazed and delivered their opinions. 
Many looked silently and soberly upon the 
inhospitable, barren land; others jeered and 
said: "To come so far for a country like 

We were not disembarked that day. Some 
said we were n't going ashore at all, that the 
revolt had already been put down; others said 
that it would last a long while yet. There was 
great uneasiness and talking back and forth 
among us. Flag signals were energetically ex- 
changed until nightfall between us and the 
cruiser Habicht. We lay that night, rocking 
in a pretty heavy swell, off Swakopmund. 



Very early the next morning we got over the 
rail and climbed in order down the rope-lad- 
der to the great flatboat which rose and sank 
certainly seven yards on the heavy waves. 
Each man had his knapsack and his white 
sleeping blanket on his back, his gun on his 
shoulder, his cartridge-belt, from which hung 
the water-sack, around his waist, and his 
bread-bag and army flask hanging from a 
strap. We had to look out that we let go the 
rope-ladder at just the right time, when the 
boat was on the crest of a wave ; but although 
I did it right I fell heavily against the gun- 
wale. When the flatboat had twenty or thirty 
men in it, it was fastened to a little low tug- 
boat and we were towed to land. 

The nearer we came to the shore the rougher 
became the water. The boat flung itself more 


and more violently through surging, leaping 
surf . We lay often between two billows which 
ran so high that we could n't see anything of 
the steamer in front of us. The next moment 
we were on top of a wave and thought we 
should be pitched down into the trough. At 
last we went through mere froth and foam, 
which leaped high around us and threw spray 
over us till we were wet through and through. 
For a time the boat was so pounded up and 
down on the heavy, choppy waves that I 
thought it would be dashed to pieces. Many 
of the men were taken suddenly and violently 
seasick and lay deathly pale on the bottom of 
the boat. But after a while we got out of that 
part into smooth water and went ashore. 

Through everlastingly deep, hot sand, un- 
der a scorching sun, with about sixty pounds 
apiece on our backs, we marched inland. We 
had thought that all Swakopmund would be 
standing on the beach, overjoyed that help 
had at last arrived ; but not a single human 
being was there. We passed isolated houses 
which stood there on the bare sand, but not 


a soul showed himself to offer us a friendly 
greeting. When we chanced to get sight of 
any one near by or far off in the shadow of a 
veranda, it seemed to us that he looked at us 
indifferently and even scornfully. Behind us 
we could hear the pounding of the surf, — it 
already sounded almost lovely to us, — and 
around us as far as we could see there was 
nothing hut barren, hot sand, on which the 
sun burned with a hard glare. We could hardly 
keep our eyes open, and a hot, dry feeling 
cramped our throats. We were pretty quiet. 

We reached the big sandy station and 
watched our train with astonishment and mis- 
trust as it drew in, rattling and creaking. It 
was made up of an endless string of little 
rough sand-cars, in front of which were at- 
tached five or seven tiny engines. We were 
divided among the cars and got in. Then, 
amid puffing and joggling and rattling, the 
train started slowly toward the interior. 

We went up grade all the time, hour after 
hour. As far as we could see ahead and on 
both sides there was nothing but yellowish 


white sand dunes, which sometimes rose to a 
great height. We stood and squatted and sat 
tightly crowded in the little open cars. As the 
oppressive heat made us thirsty all the time, 
we were continually and improvidently open- 
ing our water-sacks. We were just as improvi- 
dent in throwing away the coffee we had 
brewed in the station at Swakopmund when 
we tasted it and found it had got sour. 
Once or twice we stopped in order to limber 
up our legs, which were lame with standing or 
sitting. Late in the afternoon the grade be- 
came so steep that the train was divided into 
three sections, so that, part by part, it could 
get up the steep heights. As we all pushed, 
this was accomplished without accident. Then 
we went along somewhat faster again, still 
through the yellow sand dunes and still up 
hill all the time. 

In the evening we reached the top of the 
ascent. Behind us the yellow, sandy road de- 
scended to the sea, about twenty-five miles in 
the distance. Right before us stood a mon- 
strous, horribly wild mountain range. I had 


never seen mountains. Not only I myself and 
the other North Germans, but also the Bava- 
rians were amazed at the sight. Quite close 
in front of us and also receding into the dis- 
tance, huge naked rocks rose to the sky. Some 
were lighted up by the evening sun and shone 
bright and hard ; others, gloomy and fearful, 
hung menacing, often directly over us. On all 
sides were evidences of the mighty powers 
that had ruled of old*, that had knocked off 
pieces of rock and precipitated them into the 
depths, and had left other pieces, already split 
away, hanging at a frightful height, as though 
they might plunge down at any moment. Lit- 
tle powers could not exist here. We did n't see 
a shrub or even a spear of grass, and not an 
animal. We, the only living beings, were roll- 
ing along through this immense, dead wonder- 
work, on our little creaking cars, ridiculous to 
look upon. 

We stopped at a little station, a house made 
of corrugated sheet iron, and boiled some 
coffee and rice for ourselves. When we got 
on board again we were ordered to take the 


barrel-covers off our guns and to load. I did 
it with a very disagreeable feeling. We pro- 
ceeded amid loud confusion, which resounded 
harshly and hideously into the light gray 
night. We were passing along a deep, nar- 
row valley between high rocks on both sides. 
Many of us were crouching, drunk with sleep ; 
some were standing, others sitting on the edge 
of the car ; every one had his white woollen 
blanket around him. We did n't say much. 
Many were probably at home in thought or 
saw themselves coming home and telling of 
all the wonders they had seen. Many, very 
likely, were thinking how the enemy could shoot 
down from every rock upon our little hand- 
ful of men, while we slowly passed by, almost 
defenseless. So we brooded, weary, hungry, 
and all used up. In the broad, clear sky num- 
berless twinkling stars shone out of a bright 
blue ground. That was indeed a beautiful, 
sublime picture. Still it was not as beautiful 
nor as impressive nor as peaceful as in my 
native land. We traveled all night, and it was 
disagreeably cold. 


During the greater part of the next day, 
which again was hot and sunny, we were still 
passing through the valleys of that horrible, 
bare mountain range. As we thought we 
should be able to refill our water-sacks at one 
of the next stations, we drank until our sup- 
ply was gone. But when at noon we really did 
stop at a station for the engine to take in 
water, and we were permitted to take water 
for ourselves, we could not drink it, for it was 
repulsively salt. By that time we were out of 
bread, too. We boiled a handful of our rice 
half tender and ate it, and we cleaned out our 
utensils a little with sand. Then we went on. 
Many a one seized upon the strong potion 
which he had in his knapsack, although it was 
forbidden to touch it. But thirst was much 
worse than hunger. We had no moisture in 
our mouths to wet our lips a little. Our breath 
came dry and hot through our parched mouths, 
and the burning dryness penetrated, as though 
with spurs and prickles, ever deeper into our 

In the afternoon we emerged at last from 


the mountains into a wide plain. We stretched 
our necks as far as we could when we came 
out, for we thought, now that we had finally 
left behind us, first the rising dunes and then 
the wild mountains, that groves of palms 
must appear. But what we saw was a broad 
plateau of reddish yellow earth, sparsely grown 
with coarse, yellow, dry grass, which waved 
like rye as high as a man's knee. In the grass 
were scattered, at first thinly, then more 
thickly, tough, thorny bushes, ranging from 
the height of a man to three or four yards. 
At last they were so close together that their 
tops touched one another. 

In the distance we suddenly saw isolated 
cones of mountains, rising, here and there, 
abruptly out of the broad plain. Once or twice 
we saw before us in the far, far distance, 
raised a little from the plain and glistening in 
the hot, trembling air, that which we longed to 
see, — high, fruitful trees and blue surfaces 
like ponds. But they vanished again; they 
were mirages. 

Although we were far from being pleased 


with what we saw, we were in a somewhat 
better mood. There was always something to 
be seen. A strange, deer-like animal chased 
in herds through the long, waving, yellowish 
grass; or an unfamiliar, brilliantly colored 
bird flew up. The pointed mountain cones 
stood out sharply in the sun, and we saw 
plainly on their slopes or at their bases jagged 
heaps of stones which had slid down from the 
heights. As we advanced, the grass and bushes 
got a little softer and the prospect a little 
more pleasing. Everything we saw, whether 
near or far, was sharply outlined in the won- 
derfully clear air. 

We had become rather more cheerful, in 
spite of our thirst, when we arrived at the 
first stopping-place which the negroes had 
destroyed. They had burned out the modest 
house, torn down the tin roof, smashed the lit- 
tle household furniture, and taken everything 
else with them. In the meagre little garden, 
where one could still see traces of the care 
with which German hands had tended it, lay 
a heap of white stones. There, buried three 


feet deep in the barren soil, lay the settler and 
his wife, who had been attacked and killed by 
the negroes. The five or six sailors from the 
Habicht, who at the time held possession of the 
place, had nailed together a cross out of pieces 
of boxes and had written upon it with a dull 
pencil the names of the killed and the words, 
" Fallen by the hand of the murderer." The 
windows they had fortified with tin cement 
tubs and with sacks full of sand. 

The sailors were very serious and quiet. 
Their uniforms were dirty and entirely spoiled. 
One of them stepped up to the car in which I 
sat, and said: "You'll find a good deal of 
work to do still. We have n't been out of our 
clothes for three weeks." 

I said : " We know very little ; what is the 
state of things?" 

" What is the state of things ? " he repeated. 
" We have had Jieavy losses." 

"Dead?" asked one of our number. 

"Dead ! " said the sailor, surprised. " In the 
last weeks we have lost more than forty dead. 
They shoot well and with good guns, — with 


those, in fact, sold them by us, or taken from 
our magazines, or off our dead." 

" Is that so ? " we said. 

" I wish you all may get back to your 
mothers/' he said. 

The day's journey was again long and 
thirsty, and we were completely exhausted. 
Toward evening we came to a larger station, 
and slept on the ground, wrapped in our blan- 
kets with our knapsacks under our heads, in 
barracks built of corrugated iron. When I 
awoke, early, before dawn, my next neighbor, 
a little quiet Thuringian, noticed it and said 
to me in a low voice : " I don't know what will 
happen if I never get home again. I am the 
eldest, with five brothers and sisters, and my 
father is sickly. When he dies I must be there 
to take care of all the others." 

" You will get home, all right," said I. 

" I must," he replied. 

Then he lay still, and when I turned my 
head a bit to one side he was looking up with 
wide-open eyes. I don't believe he saw the tin 
roof at which he gazed, but instead he saw 


the living-room and the barn of his parental 

That morning, when I was walking about 
the station building, I saw the first of the 
enemy, a prisoner and his wife. He was a tall 
man with a strong, proud body, half-naked, 
with a vacant, indifferent expression in his pas- 
sive but dismal face. The woman was elderly 
and very ugly. At noon the next day we con- 
tinued the journey through the same flat land, 
which was now, however, somewhat more fer- 
tile and had long yellow grass, and bushes, and 
even occasional trees growing on it ; but every- 
thing was still dried up and of a grayish green 
color. The stations we now passed were almost 
all destroyed, and near many a one lay a heap 
of white stones which indicated a grave. In 
the middle of the night we reached a great sta- 
tion building, the windows of which had been 
walled up into loopholes. In three or four 
sheds of corrugated iron a lot of provisions 
had been piled up. In the square court of a 
fortification which was there we had at last a 
real meal, — pea soup, and meat and rice. 


On the next day, the fourth and last of our 
journey, the country became more fruitful and 
more attractive. Near by and in the distance 
groups of tall trees which looked like oaks 
were to be seen from time to time in the high 
grass. Among them ran a broad strip of yel- 
low sand, the dried-up bed of a river. There 
for the space of three days in December of the 
year before waves had danced along, leaving 
traces still to be seen in the sand; but now it 
was entirely dry, and would stay so for a year, 
and perhaps for three. It was just so with all 
the rivers we had come across in this country; 
they were strips of sand half a yard or a yard 
lower than the plain. 

I rather liked the landscape through which 
we passed on this fourth day. Two kinds of 
antelopes, a smaller and a larger, like deer, 
would sometimes run alone, or in herds, across 
the bare places in the brush. Strange gray-and- 
white-speckled birds, somewhat bigger than 
partridges, flew over the bushes and down 
again. Clumps of beautiful, stately trees stood 
in the midst of the soft green, and from a dis- 


tance the green mountain slopes formed a 
far from unpleasing sight. But my comrades 
didn't like the country; I think it was n't 
strange and wonderful enough for them. They 
wanted Africa to look entirely different in 
every particular from their native land. 

In the afternoon we reached the capital 
city. It was small, spread out, and quite irregu- 
larly built. Here and there on the sandy gray 
earth were flat-roofed white houses, among 
which stood occasional sorry-looking trees. We 
panted under our heavy packs through sand 
and sun up to the fort, which was situated on 
a moderately high hill, and there in the court- 
yard, which was full of life, we broke ranks. 

What a life it was that we now entered upon ! 
For four days we hadn't had our clothes off 
or washed ourselves, and for three days we 
hadn't had a really good swallow of water. 
Here in the wall of the courtyard were fau- 
cets with warm, almost hot water from the 
mountain running out of them. How quickly 
we got our clothes off and how joyfully we 
washed, and played the water over ourselves ! 


How quickly we forgot our thirst and dirt ! 
And how curiously we looked about us ! 

The home guards were going about in their 
cord uniforms : brown velvet coats, full trou- 
sers and riding-boots, and soft gray hats. Most 
of them had already been for years in the 
country. Sick or wounded, or detailed to ac- 
company us to the enemy, as guides, they were 
walking back and forth, some idle and some 
occupied. We talked to them while we were 
washing ourselves, and asked them how mat- 
ters stood. They were somewhat stiff, as old 
campaigners are, especially if one asks them 
all sorts of silly questions, as some of us did. 
However, when I addressed one of them, a ser- 
geant, with intelligence and respect, he told 
me of the enemy's cruelty toward the farmers, 
of the heavy losses in the last fight, and of 
the position of the enemy. The sergeant was 
a Hamburg man named Hansen. Just then a 
lot of our men came up. 

There were some women captives in the yard 
of the fort, and some of them were young and 
not ugly ; but most of them were faded and 


hideous. They took washing to do for the 
soldiers, and lounged about with short pipes 
in their mouths, and were very dirty. I did n't 
like it that some of our men went right up to 
them and joked with them by means of signs 
and some English and Low-German words. 

There were Boers there, too, stately, brown, 
long-bearded men in khaki or cord uniforms. 
The German government had engaged them 
as wagoners. Strong four-wheeled wagons, 
called Cape wagons, covered with linen hoods, 
stood outside in front of the court. These 
wagons were to go out with us next day and 
drag provisions and fodder for us into the 

We slept that night in the yard of the fort. 
Before I went to sleep I thought for a long 
time of my parents, and of Itzehoe, and of my 
life up to now. It came to me that it was 
probably more than a whole year since I had 
said my prayers, and I resolved to begin again. 



The next morning, while it was still dark, 
we broke camp. We were to surround the 
enemy to the northeast in a great arc, so that 
they couldn't escape into English territory 
with their own and their stolen herds of cattle. 
For the present, only one company with four 
small cannon was marching ; the others were 
to follow in a few days. 

Our guides, the home guards, went on 
ahead, mounted on pretty good shaggy horses, 
their guns resting in leather pockets on the 
right leg. They were for the most part old 
African settlers, farmers, who had been called 
out as militiamen. Next rode the captain with 
the officers. Then came the long row of 
wagons and the artillery. 

The great wagons, drawn by long teams of 
oxen, rumbled clumsily along. Now the high, 


heavy wheels would grind into the deep sand ; 
now a wheel would climb up on a stone lying 
in the rut and would fall back into position 
while the wagon creaked and groaned in every 
part. Black drivers ran alongside, calling to 
each ox by name and cracking the enormous 
whips which they held in both hands. Behind 
each wagon, which with its team was perhaps 
fifty yards long, marched a division, in dust 
and sand (when possible just outside the 
wagon track), with guns slung over their 
shoulders and cartridge-belts around their 
waists. Single horsemen, officers, rode along 
at intervals near us. Last came the so-called 
rear guard, half a platoon. The country was 
for the most part covered with more or less 
dense brush as tall as a man. So we proceeded 
in an everlastingly long train along a road 
which was indicated only by old and new 
wagon-tracks. From time to time a wagon 
stopped because the harness of the oxen had 
got out of order, or because a wheel had sunk 
too deep into a rut, or because an ox had 
collapsed and had to be unharnessed. 


Already, on this first day, the sun shone 
dry and hot. The road was quite hilly and 
full of unevennesses besides. At eleven o'clock, 
when the heat was becoming unbearable, we 
fortunately reached a beautiful shady place, 
where we halted. Not far from here a fine, 
stately farmhouse had been totally ruined by 
the blacks : the windows had been torti out ; 
the heavy, well-made furniture had been 
smashed to pieces; and many books were 
strewn about, soiled and torn. We boiled, each 
mess company for itself, a little rice for din- 
ner, and lay down to rest in the shade of 
the wagons. In the afternoon we went on, 
marching till late in the evening. 

In a clearing we formed a camp and forti- 
fied it by stationing the wagons in a square 
around it. Besides that, we built, about fifty 
yards outside the wagons, at each of the four 
points of the compass, a little crescent-shaped 
barricade of bush with the big curve pointing 
out. In each barricade were placed an under 
officer and three men. The officer had to stand 
in the middle of the barricade, with two of 


the men lying diagonally back of him, and 
the third man had to walk back and forth 
through the bushes to the next barricade, a 
distance of about four hundred yards. It was 
known that many of the enemy were in the 

I belonged for the night to post number 
two, and lay until eight o'clock on the ground 
behind the under officer, and listened, my gun 
at hand. From a distance out of the bush 
came the howling of strange wild animals. It 
began soft and low and grew higher and 
hoarser. Between whiles resounded another 
sort of howl, coarser and more jerky. Now 
and then a dry branch cracked. Is it the 
sentry returning from the other post ? Is it 
the enemy? Is it an animal ? The sentry comes 
up slowly and cautiously. He bends down a 
little and reports, in a low tone, inside the 
barricade, " Back from patrol. All clear." It 
was a very dark night. 

Shortly afterwards it became my turn to walk 
up and down till morning. I got up and groped 
carefully along, often standing still and strain- 


ing my ears toward the dark bushes surround- 
ing me. When I came to the next post, I 
reported and came back the same way. Often 
I thought surely that a dark body was cower- 
ing there somewhere by a bush in the grass. 
My heart beat wildly. A branch broke behind 
me. I retreated with light, careful tread, so that 
I had a bush at my back, and watched atten- 
tively on all sides. When all was quiet again 
I went cautiously on. My eyes turned hastily 
this way and that like mice in a trap. 

On my third trip a shot fell in front of me 
in the direction of the next post. The short 
report pierced the still darkness of the night. 
I fell on one knee, raised my gun, and waited 
till I should see an object to aim at. As I lay 
there the men ran out of the wagon fort to 
the aid of the post. I heard their voices; then 
their shots flashed at one side of me. The 
whole camp was in motion; I heard commands 
and hot firing. I lay and waited certainly half 
an hour or more and did not fire, for I saw 
nothing to aim at. Then it was still. 

I rose and went on slowly and cautiously, 


that I might not be accidentally taken for an 
enemy and be shot. I reached the barricade 
safely and reported. There was only one man 
there. I asked him softly where the others were. 
He replied just as quietly that they had gone 
out at the first shot to help the men who were 
attacked, and had not returned. Then I went 
v back again. 

So I wandered back and forth in the quiet 
night as I had been told to do, and each time 
I came to the other post I stooped and looked 
into the barricade and found always only the 
one man, who stood erect, his gun on his arm, 
and peered into the darkness. When I asked 
him softly, "The others?" he turned his head 
quickly toward me, raised his hand warningly, 
and looked out again into the night without 
saying a word. Then I thought that there had 
been some mishap. 

I went up and down till the darkness began 
to grow grayer and grayer, and little voices 
began to chirp in the bushes, and in the east 
the morning light began to mount in five rosy 
stripes. Then came the relief for the sentries. 


When I came into camp and was going to 
my mess division, who were sitting around the 
hole where they had their fire, and I was look- 
ing casually about me, — for the whole picture 
was new to me, the great heavy wagons, the 
old Africans in high boots and shirtsleeves 
around their fire-holes, the two tents of officers, 
the black drivers squatting in a corner, talking 
and laughing, — and was about to open my 
mouth and ask cheerfully and braggingly: 
" Well, what was the firing about last night ?" 
— just at that moment the whole camp sud- 
denly stood up and looked with earnest, wide- 
open eyes toward one end, where many soldiers 
were gathering and gazing down at the ground. 
And some one said: "You see? There it is." 

I knew then what had happened. I went 
with them to where the crowd was, — and my 
feet were very heavy, — and there I saw three 
comrades lying on the ground, their breasts 
bloody, their mouths open, and their eyes star- 
ing and dull. A subordinate officer who had 
come up behind me said : " Those are the men 
from post number three." We stood and looked 


down upon them. More joined the crowd. We 
did not speak a word. An officer came and 
sent us away. 

Some hours later the dead, wrapped in their 
woollen blankets, were buried on a little hill. 
Eight men shot into the air over their open 
grave in their honor. The captain said the 
Lord's Prayer. Then we sat silent and de- 
pressed around our cooking-holes. 

We stayed three or four days in this place, 
for orders had come for us to wait here for the 
major, who was following with the other com- 
pany. We had to have a lot of drill; musketry 
practice, practice in bush fighting, and the like. 
Moreover, our cooking made a good deal of 
work, for we were awkward and unnecessarily 
particular about it. Every mess — there were 
in each at most six men — made itself as fine 
a cooking-hole as possible, and with much skill 
and much more talk, dug a knee-deep gutter 
in a circle around it, into which each of us 
could stick his feet, so that we could sit quite 
comfortably. Some of the mess companies 
prided themselves mightily on such earthworks. 


Then one fellow — and it had to be one with 
a good grip and the gift of gab — had to 
fetch the rations from the wagons: rice, meat, 
wheat flour, salt, and coffee. Others had to 
collect dry wood from the bush around the 
camp, and still others had to fetch water from 
deep water-holes in the steep, black rocks. 
Thus every one had his share of the work. 

One difficult matter was bread-baking. One 
of us remembered this, and one that; and 
every one knew something about it. Some 
looked thoughtfully at the ground, and then 
getting a lucky inspiration would pour forth 
what had come to them. One, a native of 
Holstein, apparently had spent the greater part 
of his childhood standing near his mother in 
front of the oven, which was in a corner of 
the garden by the wall ; and he even asserted 
that his mother had several times inadvertently 
set him on the shovel and pushed him into the 
oven. He knew, therefore, not only how it 
feels to be a bread-baker, but also to be the 
loaf of bread. He was a rogue, and we did n't 
listen to him. 


We were very anxious to learn. The sour 
bread, especially, caused us much thought ; but 
after long and heated discussion and much 
running to and from other divisions, we made 
bread of rum and flour. Some stood waiting, 
with shirtsleeves rolled up, ready to knead it. 
One advised that they should wash their hands 
first, and he got a sharp hint that he had 
made a ridiculous suggestion. There was no 
water for washing hands. They kneaded the 
dough industriously and laid it carefully in the 
cooking-pan over a gentle fire. It rose a little, 
and browned a little, but even then it was 
sticky and not properly baked. 

Evenings we sat around the dying fire and 
talked over the position of the enemy and the 
progress of the campaign, — for wild and won- 
derful rumors were current at times, — and we 
reverted always to the last fight. We talked of 
how we had found not a single dead enemy 
and of the possibility that our three killed had 
been shot by our own men, and we shook our 
heads and gazed into the embers; and then 
some one would stoop and stir up the fire a 


little. Next we got to talking of Kiel and of 
home, and each one told something about his 
life or his childhood and praised it. The Swa- 
bians, especially, talked a great deal, and talked 
big about what they had and what they could 
do. Then we lay down just as we were sitting, 
in a circle about our cooking-hole, and pulled 
our blankets over us and slept. 

On the fourth evening, when it was already 
dark and we were sitting around the fires, we 
saw flashes of light in the east. Immediately 
afterwards, it flashed in the west also. We 
became very much excited; we thought the 
enemy were giving signals about attacking us. 
The light hovered a moment like a white star 
on the horizon and then vanished and appeared 
again immediately. It seemed quite near. 
The next morning Gehlsen told me that the 
signals had been from our own men, who were 
situated in a fortification in the far east in the 
midst of the enemy. They had signaled way 
over us to the west to the capital and had 
received an answer from there. 

Very e^rly the next morning, the fifth, our 


outposts saw the major advancing. Many of 
us climbed on the wagons and watched the 
long procession, which wound slowly up out of 
the ravines of the mountains; and we talked 
as if we were already old Africans, although 
we were merely four days and three dead ahead 
of them. And one of us said to another, " The 
old fellow is surprised. Marching here is dif- 
ferent from in Kiel." So we stood and watched, 
and were especially pleased when we recog- 
nized the old officer. For the first time we 
were superior to him. 



We were to surround the enemy in an arc 
to the north and corner them, just as one runs 
in a circle and corners a colt so that it runs 
back where the boy is waiting with a halter 
in his hand. We were to make forced marches 
with fewer and lighter wagons, which meant 
smaller and lighter rations, and with less and 
lighter clothing. We were about three hun- 
dred men, — marines, sailors, and the home 
guards, who were leading us. 

The troop of old Africans again went 
on ahead, officers and common soldiers, all 
mounted. Then came the old major with one 
officer ; then we foot-soldiers in a long, thin 
line veiled in dust. Here and there in our line 
were the thirty great Cape wagons, loaded with 
the light fieldpieces and each drawn by from 
ten to twenty-four long-horned oxen, which 


were driven, with much shouting, by negroes. 
On both sides of the way was more or less 
dense, grayish green thorn-bush, the wood of 
which is as hard as bone, and which grows to 
the height of a man, and sometimes twice that 
height, and has curved thorns as long as one's 
finger. In such wise and through such country 
we now traveled day after day and week after 
week. And day by day and week by week our 
progress became more painful. For soon came 
the time when we began to suffer from hunger 
and want, when the oxen began to fall from 
exhaustion, and when some of the clumsily 
rumbling wagons were full of the distress of 
the wounded or very sick. 

When the sun mounted high over us, almost 
to the zenith, and the sand was scorching, and 
eyes and throats were burning, the van would 
halt at a clearing where there ought to have 
been water, but the water was not always 
there. Then suffering terribly from thirst, we 
had to dig holes to see if we could find a little 
water slowly filtering through. Often it was 
salt or milky from lime, or smelled vile ; and 


oftener we didn't find even this miserable, 
loathsome water, and we had to go on again 
thirsty, far into the night. If we did find 
water, we would make a barricade of thorn- 
bush around us. Then each mess division 
would get its meagre supply of food ; a little 
meat from a freshly killed ox which had fallen 
exhausted, a little flour, and a little rice. The 
meat or flour we stirred up in a kettle with 
the bad water, and set it over the fire, calling 
it meat soup, or bouillon with rice, or pan- 
cakes, which they called " Plinsen." The cook- 
ing utensils were cleaned with sand. After 
that we lay for an hour in the shade of the 
wagons or of a canvas that had been set up, 
and then started on again. 

Weary and indifferent, we marched on till 
evening and often into the night, and I don't 
know that in those weeks we ever sang. The 
moonlight lay wonderfully pale, like bright 
spider webs, over the broad, bushy land, and 
the unfamiliar stars gleamed strangely confused 
and restless. The gun-straps pressed on our 
shoulders, our feet stumbled in the uneven 


track, and our thoughts were slow and dull. 
When we had reached water in the night and 
had had dealt out to us one or two, or, if it 
was more plenty, even three cook-pan covers 
full of the miserable stuff, we were too tired to 
cook properly. We stirred up together a little 
of whatever we got and ate it half cooked. We 
had orders to bring the water to the boiling- 
point before we took it ; but I have seen the 
officers, and for that matter even the physi- 
cians themselves, drink it just as it was. We 
were too tired and apathetic. 

So it went on every day for four weeks. 
The country was always flat and bushy. We 
did n't see a single house and we did n't meet 
a human being. 

It was bad that we could n't take provisions 
enough with us. If we had been able to, many 
more would have seen their homes again. We 
did n't notice it ourselves, but the doctors and 
officers probably saw that we were gradually 
getting flabby and weak. If we had even had 
time and inclination to cook properly, it would 
have been better; but the water was often so 


repulsive that it was no pleasure, and we had to 
use it so sparingly that our utensils got foul. 
I rubbed them with sand and I rubbed them 
with grass, but they did not get clean. And it 
was bad that we had only thin khaki uniforms. 
In the morning we marched up to our knees 
in wet grass, at noon in hot sand, and all day 
through thorny brush, so that the lower part 
of our trousers fringed out and soon hung 
in shreds. When, as sometimes happened, a 
thunder-storm or a shower came up and then 
night came on, we were horribly cold. There 
were some very cold nights. 

Thus it had to come about that we soon 
became very weak, even though we did not 
notice it ourselves. I used to think sometimes 
with surprise, " There was so much talk and 
squabbling among us on shipboard, and so 
many jokes among us ! Where are they, and 
why don't we sing ? How pale and yellow and 
thin Behrens has grown ! How sunken and 
feverish our under officer's eyes look ! What 
awfully thin beards we young men have!" 
There were many among us not yet twenty. 


Once we came upon a great covered wagon 
left deserted on the road. A farmer or a 
trader had wanted to escape and had packed 
his most valuable possessions in the wagon, 
harnessed his oxen to it, and driven the rest 
of his flocks before it. He had come as far as 
this. His bones lay eaten by beasts, his goods 
were stolen, and round about the wagon were 
strewn the only things which the enemy 
could n't use, his letters and books. We buried 
the bones in the bush, tied a cross together 
with string and set it on the grave, and took 
some letters and remnants of books, read 
them, and threw them away. 

Another day we discovered, hidden in the 
bush, on a hill by the way, many deserted 
huts of the enemy. They were like great bee- 
hives made of a skeleton of branches and twigs 
plastered over with cow-dung. Although we 
were so tired, we took the time to set fire to 
these, and afterwards stood on a rise in our 
road and looked back. The glow dyed the 
evening sky for a great distance. 

Besides this I don't know that anything 


special happened to us. We marched contin- 
ually along the sandy road in a cloud of dust, 
on both sides of us brush that from time to time 
was thinner, or that yielded to make a majestic 

Our horsemen, the old Africans and the 
officers, rode often an hour in advance of us 
and tried to spy out the enemy. When they 
came back the news would often spread through 
the ranks or at night from fire to fire : " We 
are close to the enemy now; to-morrow or the 
day after we shall meet them." Then we re- 
joiced and each man sat and looked oyer his 
gun and examined his cartridge-belt. But a 
new day came and still another, and we grew 
weaker and more exhausted, and we saw 
nothing of the enemy. 

So it went on for four weeks, further and 
further. It was bad that we never had our 
clothes off and could never wash ourselves, 
and seldom, and then not thoroughly, even 
our faces and hands ; but what was worse, we 
could never get enough to eat any more. They 
had given to me the task of getting the rations 


for our mess. I brought less and less to the 
cooking-hole ; a little rice, a little flour, a little 
canned meat, and a little coffee. There was no 
more sugar, and one day I came back fron^the 
wagon with no salt. Then I baked pancakes 
made of dirty water and flour. The water we 
drank with our food tasted disgustingly of 
Glaubersalz ; often it was as yellow as pea soup 
and smelled vile. The nights were cold. 

I cannot say that we were cast down. We 
did n't grumble, either. We perceived that it 
could n't go any other way and that the offi- 
cers endured all that we did. We were very 
quiet and sober, though. We held ourselves 
together with the thought: "We shall soon 
now come upon the enemy and beat them and 
finish up the campaign, and then, oh! then, we 
shall go back to the capital and get new clothes 
and have a bath. We '11 spring into the water, 
and we'll get a new handkerchief, a really 
clean, red checked one, and a great lot of good 
meat and a handful of white salt, and a great, 
great mug of clean, crystal-clear water — how 
it will glisten! And we'll have a long, long 


drink and hold out the empty mug, and again 
the water will pour into it, and we '11 drink 
and drink. And then after a few days we '11 
travel back to the coast and we 'U start for 
home 1 What shan't we have to tell about this 
monkey-land 1 " 

Oar boots fell apart; our trousers were 
nothing but shreds and rags at the bottom ; 
our jackets got full of great holes from the 
thorns and were horribly greasy because we 
wiped everything off on them; our hands were 
full of inflamed places because we often had 
to seize the thorns with them. 

Our lieutenant often talked to us. " Keep 
up your courage," he would say ; " we shall 
have a fight and throw the rascals back to the 
west into the jaws of the main division. And 
in July we'll be at home again." I marveled 
at him, that he, though not much older than 
we, and suffering all the hardships that we 
did, was always uniformly calm, while we were 
often good-for-nothing and got angry and 
grumbled. It wasn't because he had learned 
more than we; I think it came from the fact 


that he was at heart a cultivated man; that is, 
he had his soul and mind in control so that he 
could value justly, and could make allowance 
for the things about him. His will would have 
it so ; and it came to pass. And I have noticed 
that will power is worth ten times more than 
mere knowing. We never said a word of how 
much we thought of him and watched him. 
He was a small man and rode a strong East 
Prussian horse, and always wore his felt hat a 
little over the left ear with the brim tilted up 
on the left side. 

The old major came sometimes and ad- 
dressed us. While doing so he looked at each 
man as closely as though he wanted to find 
out if he were having any sort of trouble. We 
all felt that he was a wise and wide-awake man 
and that he had a gentle, sympathetic heart. 
We felt, therefore, safe under him, and we 
knew it could not be any different from what 
it was or he would have changed it ; and we 
would run like so many rabbits if we could do 
any little service for him. When any one had 
run that way, we used to jeer at him and say: 


"Are you trying to burst yourself, man?" 
But when the turn came to any one else he 
would run just the same. 

Sometimes when we were all sitting about 
our fire-holes, I would take myself off over to 
the old Africans, who always had their fire by 
one of the wagons which Sergeant Hansen 
conducted. Then Hansen would motion to me, 
for he liked me since I had talked to him in 
the courtyard of the fort. They always sat by 
themselves, not entirely out of pride, but also 
because they were mostly from five to twenty 
years older than we were. Some of them had 
been already ten years or more in the country. 

I used to sit down quietly with them and 
listen with great eagerness to their talk. Some- 
times they talked of the wild fifteen years' 
struggles in the colony, in all or part of which 
they had shared, and of the fighting in the 
last three months. They recalled the scene of 
many a brave deed, and named many a valiant 
man, dead or living. I was surprised that so 
many hard undertakings, of which I had never 
heard or read so much as a word, had been 


carried through by Germans, and that already 
so much German blood had been lavishly 
spilled in this hot, barren land. They touched, 
too, upon the causes of the uprising ; and one 
of the older men, who had been long in the 
country, said : " Children, how should it be 
otherwise? They were ranchmen and proprie- 
tors, and we were there to make them landless 
workingmen ; and they rose up in revolt. They 
acted in just the same way that North Ger- 
many did in 1813. This is their struggle for 
independence." " But the cruelty ? " said some 
one else, and the first speaker replied indiffer- 
ently : " Do you suppose that if our whole peo- 
ple should rise in revolt against foreign oppres- 
sors it would take place without cruelty ? And 
are we not cruel toward them?" They dis- 
cussed, too, what the Germans really wanted 
here. They thought we ought to make that 
point clear. " The matter stood this way: there 
were missionaries here who said : ' You are our 
dear brothers in the Lord and we want to 
bring you these benefits ; namely, Faith, Love, 
and Hope.' And there were soldiers, farmers, 


and traders, and they said : ' We want to take 
your cattle and your land gradually away from 
you and make you slaves without legal rights/ 
Those two things did n't go side by side. It 
is a ridiculous and crazy project. Either it is 
right to colonize, that is, to deprive others of 
their rights, to rob and to make slaves, or it 
is just and right to Christianize, that is, to 
proclaim and live up to brotherly love. One 
must clearly desire the one and despise the 
other ; one must wish to rule or to love, to be 
for or against Jesus. The missionaries used to 
preach to them, ' Ye are our brothers/ and 
that turned their heads. They are not our 
brothers, but our slaves, whom we must treat 
humanely but strictly. These ought to be our 
brothers? They may become that after a cen- 
tury or two. They must first learn what we 
ourselves have discovered, — to stem water 
and to make wells, to dig and to plant corn, 
to build houses and to weave clothing. After 
that they may well become our brothers. One 
does n't take any one into a partnership till 
he has paid up his share." 


One old freight-carrier, who mixed many 
English and Dutch words in his speech, said 
it would be better if the colony were sold to 
the English. " The Germans are probably use- 
ful as soldiers and farmers/' he said, "but 
they understand nothing about the govern- 
ment of colonies. They want this and they 
want that." A younger man, who had been in 
the country only three years, said, in answer: 
" There '11 have to be a thousand or two Ger- 
man graves in this country before that happens, 
and perhaps they '11 be dug this year." 

Over these conversations it got to be late at 
night j the fires still glowed a little, and in the 
uncertain light I saw the faces that had become 
browned and weatherbeaten from the burning 
of the African sun. 

In these hard, hot days of marching and 
cold, moonlight nights, when we were advan- 
cing painfully, but still not without courage, 
one week after another, through the wild, 
bushy land, — there was not a house, not a 
ditch, not a tree, not a boundary in the burn- 
ing sun by day or the pale moonlight of the 


clear nights; when I was plodding along, 
hungry and dirty and weary by the sandy, 
uneven wagon track, my gun on my shoulder; 
when I lay in the noon hour in the shadow of 
the great Cape wagons, and in the bitter cold 
nights, hungry and restless, in a thin blanket 
on the bare earth, and the strange stars shone 
in the beautiful blue heavens, — then, I be- 
lieve, even then, in those painful weeks, I 
learned to love that wonderful, endless country. 



Towabd the end of the fourth week some 
horsemen, who had been sent on ahead, came 
in with the report that the enemy were close 
by ; so we made a better camp than usual. We 
set up the old major's tent under a big tree, 
made a strong barricade of thornbush around 
us, established outposts, and slept for the night. 
Early the next morning, when I was coming 
from guard duty, I heard that all our horse- 
men, not only the old Africans but also most 
of the officers, were to go out as a scouting 
party and ascertain the position of the enemy. 
Soon after that I saw that they were saddling 
and harnessing oxen to the one two-wheeled 
wagon and the machine-gun. Then they started 
out of camp, in all about forty mounted men. 
The major, with his straight little figure and 
his searching glance, rode in the midst of them, 


88 did our lieutenant. I was vexed that he had 
taken the corporal with him instead of me. 
Still, I gazed after him till the narrow sandy 
path disappeared in the bushes. He was wear- 
ing his hat over his left ear. 

After they left, we began a grand wash, for 
in this place there was quite a lot of water in 
deep holes which had been dug in the bright 
gray limy earth. We made a broad ditch by 
our fire-hole, spread a water-tight tent-cloth 
over i^ poured water into it, took off our rags 
and washed and scrubbed them with great zeal. 
Then we hung them up on bushes to dry. In 
this way we spent the day rather more cheer- 
fully than for a long time, and we talked of 
our cavalry and when they would come back. 
Toward evening I went to our commissariat 
wagon and got the share for our mess and made 
a flour mush ; and we sat about our cooking- 
hole, as usual, and ate. 

While we were sitting there we suddenly 
saw that the next mess division were stretching 
their necks and getting up. At the same time 
we heard shouting from the other end of the 


camp. We sprang up and saw galloping to- 
ward us, on the same path which our scouting 
party had taken in the morning, a single rider. 
He was so exhausted by his exertions that he 
swayed from side to side with every leap of his 
horse, and the horse was shiny with sweat and 
bespattered with foam. They helped him dis- 
mount, but he either could not or would not 
speak. The captain came out of his tent and 
led him away with him. 

At that moment two more riders, old Afri- 
cans, came in, one shortly behind the other. 
One was a native of Schleswig, a capable, ear- 
nest man. They called to the captain without 
dismounting and said, in a thick voice : " More 
than half are dead." 

Then we all called out together : " Who is 
dead? What? Who is left? Where 's the old 
man? Is Peter dead? Is our lieutenant dead? 
Speak, can't you?" But they said nothing. 
Then the first one came out of the tent and 
said : " The cart will come immediately with 
several officers who have been wounded." 

We got our guns ready, strengthened our 


outposts, and sent out an expedition to meet 
the wagon, and waited, brooding and talking 
in low voices. We felt as though we had been 
struck on the head. 

Soon we heard from a distance out of the 
bush the cracking of whips ; then we saw the 
white canvas top of the wagon shimmering 
through the bushes. The harness of the oxen 
was in disorder and several of them were 
wounded. On the chest in the middle of the 
wagon sat the wounded officers; several others 
lay near them as though dead. The old major, 
however, stood upright in their midst. His hair 
was bloody and his face was pale. The hospital 
aids came running with woollen blankets, cov- 
ered those who were lying in the wagon and 
carried them away. Blood trickled in great 
drops from the tail-board. After considerable 
time, fifteen more men came in one by one, 
among them Sergeant Hansen. That was all 
that came back. 

I went over to my mess and sat there awhile 
despondently. The old Africans were sitting 
not far from us, but I did not venture to go to 


them, for they had become a small company. 
At last, however, I went and seated myself 
silently a little at one side. 

" He wanted to come back/' Sergeant Han- 
sen was saying, staring into the fire, " but he 
had a bad shot in his leg, so he had to stay 
lying there." Another man was mentioned. 
" He had luck/' said the man from Schleswig. 
"He got a shot in the breast and lay quite 
still." I asked in a low voice for our lieutenant* 
" I don't know/' said one. The other one said : 
"He went into cover in the bush and Karl 
saw him fall there." One of them told of the 
old major : " As long as I live, I shall hear his 
placid voice amidst all the distress and shots. 
It is a wonder that he escaped alive." Another 
said : " They all did well. They held their 
ground lying or standing, and they charged 
and took their death wounds like brave men." 
The Schleswiger shook his head and brought 
his hand down heavily on his knee. "To 
think that that could have happened to us ! " 
he said. They mentioned two more good names 
of old Africans who had led and fallen. 


I spoke up now in a loud voice : " There is 
a remarkably large number of dead and few 
wounded " ; but Hansen said : " Don't be so 
stupid. They don't make prisoners. We don't, 
either." Then they said again that we should 
most likely have a battle now, and, if we did, 
it would be a very severe one. 

While I was still sitting with them and lis- 
tening, balls of red and white fire were shot as 
signals out of great pistols, from the middle of 
our camp up straight into the evening sky. 
Many of us stood up on the wagons and on 
branches of trees and watched out over the 
vast, dark, silent bush to see if an answer came 
from the main division. But no answer came. 

When quiet was commanded in camp, I went 
back to my division. Our corporal had not 
come back. The next day I was promoted to 
be corporal. The buttons which Gehlsen gave 
me I sewed on with white thread. There was 
no black to be had. 

We remained several days more in this place. 
Several scouting parties went and came every 
day ; but none of them saw anything of the 


enemy. And still no messenger or signals came 
from the main division. We talked a great deal 
about our situation, and thought the enemy, 
forced to the east by the main army, would 
some day come upon us with their thousands, 
and would run over us in order to break through 
into the wilderness. That might well be a hard 
position for us. 

After a few days the water got scarce and 
bad; so we broke camp one afternoon and 
marched with great caution, for it was to be ex- 
pected that the enemy, who on account of their 
numerous herds of cattle needed a great deal 
of water and had possession of the next water- 
holes, said to be very plenteous ones, would 
defend them zealously. Some sections had to 
make sallies on both sides, slinking crouched 
down among the bushes, with their guns ready 
in their hands. I was ordered to this work. 

As our main body advanced swiftly on the 
unimpeded way, we who had to be always ahead 
of them at one side were obliged to run, slink, 
duck, leap, and keep continually on the alert. 
This went on for seven hours. When I was 


relieved, I was dead tired. The soles of my 
boots, which had been torn for two weeks 
already, were loose and my feet were sore. Be- 
fore we went on again, I tied up my soles with 
thongs of fresh ox-skin and pulled great thorns 
out of my hands and arms. 

We marched well into the night, which was 
particularly dark. In the middle of the night 
the command came suddenly from the head of 
the column to halt and push up together. The 
wagons came up together in haste, and we knelt 
in a square around them, facing out with our 
guns ready. We thought the attack was com- 
ing now. We were all eager for it. But it 
did n't come and soon the command was given : 
"Stack arms, and take blankets." We sta- 
tioned guards and camped there for the night. 

Early the next day we went on unhindered 
and reached the water place about noon. It 
was a rather large field, white from the limy 
soil. In several deep holes there was quite a 
good deal of good water. There we camped. 

Next morning our company set out to find 
the place where the big scouting party had 


fought and been half annihilated. After a long, 
difficult march through thick bush and past 
several shallow ponds containing good water, 
we saw, toward noon, numberless eagles and 
vultures perching on trees, or hovering in the 
air over the brush-field. We went toward them 
and came to a cleared space, which at one end 
ran up a little slope where the brush was grow- 
ing again and where, already partially con- 
cealed by the new growth, stood some huts 
of the enemy. On this slope, in the long, dry 
grass in front of the huts, lay the naked, muti- 
lated, half -devoured bodies of many of our men. 
Some of us were silent; some gnashed their 
teeth, doubled up their fists, and cursed j others 
mocked and said : " How long will it be before 
we are lying that way ? Then we shall have 
no more suffering." 

We placed men on guard in the bush about 
us and began to search for the other dead, 
especially those who had made an attack into 
the bush and had fallen there, and we found 
them all. Then some dug graves, others wove 
wreaths of the dry grass, others made crosses 


of pieces of wood, and still others cut the 
thorn bushes, which were hard as horn, with 
knives or side-arms. Then we laid the dead in 
their graves, shoveled the earth over them, 
laid the thorny branches we had cut as a bar- 
rier over the place so that the wild animals 
and men would leave them in peace, and re- 
turned again to the camp. 



This evening or the next morning a recon- 
noitring party came back with the news that 
it looked as if the enemy intended to break 
through toward the east at the south of us* 
As this movement would threaten our pro- 
vision line, and as, moreover, no news had yet 
come from the main division, and without it 
our small number could hardly withstand the 
onslaught of thousands, the major decided to 
go back about three days' march to our old 
water place and to lie in wait in a fortified 
camp until news should come. 

So we started on the return journey. We 
were all depressed ; many were weary and dull. 
When we came, after some hours' marching, 
to a beautiful great forest with trees which 
looked like German oaks, we were strongly 
reminded of our native land, and we became 
a little brighter and more lively while passing 


through it. We crossed the dry, sandy bed of 
a river, which lay a yard deeper than its banks, 
and then on again through quite narrow bush 

While we were encamped that night, we at 
last saw signals to the southwest of us. They 
flashed out five or six times in red or white 
rockets and aroused and excited us. We 
thought they were signals from the main divi- 
sion, and that now we should start out and 
charge the enemy. Weeks afterward we learned 
that it was the enemy, who, finding some rock- 
ets near our dead, had shot them off for sport. 
We were quieter than usual this evening. It 
was the night before Easter. 

This evening Behrens bequeathed to me, in 
case he fell, his pistols, which he had brought 
with him from Kiel; and I bequeathed him 
my watch and chain, which I had earned by 
voluntarily helping in the workshop when I 
was a fourteen-year-old boy. Otto Hargens, a 
one-year volunteer from Ditmarsh, a bright 
young fellow who was promoted to be under 
officer that evening, was witness. 


The next morning, while it was still dark, 
we made a fine Easter fire of dried thorn-bush 
in the middle of the camp, and all stood about 
it and gazed into it and were glad that we were 
still alive, although our life was so dirty and 
friendless and painful; and we thought of 
home, picturing how the mother was giving 
out the Sunday clothes, and how clean the 
living-room was, and how festive the morning 
coffee, and how the church-bells were ringing 
out over the houses. 

Just at this hour, in the gray of the morn- 
ing, a great company of the enemy was really 
moving to the east, not in order to break 
through into the wilderness, but in order to 
lie in wait for us in an especially bushy part 
of the road we should pass that day. 

About six o'clock, when the Easter sun had 
risen bright and clear, we broke camp. We 
proceeded in the following order: first, the 
little group of cavalry which still remained to 
us, on their emaciated, wounded, and rough- 
coated horses; then a company marching; then 
our cannon ; then our fifty wagons, each with 


a team of twenty-four oxen ; and then my com- 
pany. I went in the first platoon. Behind this, 
as the rear of the whole column, at a distance 
of about three hundred yards, marched a half- 
platoon. The whole column was about two 
miles and a half long. On the narrow, dusty 
road, which wound in many curves through 
the thick bush, only a small part of it could 
be seen at a time. But one heard from the 
cracking of whips and the shouting of the 
negro drivers, " Work, Work, Osse ! " how the 
procession was going forward. 

I was passing, in my thoughts of home, 
through our whole house. I went to the door 
and looked down the street where the people 
were going to church, and I turned back into 
the kitchen where mother was inspecting my 
little sisters to see if they were properly dressed 
for going to church. How peaceful and clean 
and lovely it all was there ! And I was really 
here and tired, hungry, clad in dirty rags, 
marching through a foreign land, far, far away 
from my home, in the midst of a wild, heathen 
enemy. So I mused, and I believe I heard the 


Easter bells as they pealed slowly and waver- 
ingly out over the city. 

Then two bullets fell not far behind me. I 
woke up, and I thought at first that an officer 
had gone into the bush and fired at some game. 

We went on, but the next moment— while 
now shot followed upon shot behind us, and we 
turned around with our guns ready to fire — 
a man came by breathless, running to the front 
and calling : " The rear is under fire ! " The of- 
ficers immediately ordered us to press forward 
into the bushes. I was already running with 
Behrens and Gehlsen into the bush and then to- 
ward the shots in the direction from which we 
had come. I had pressed forward a little way 
when I saw two clouds of smoke rising among 
bushes in front of me. I hastily raised my gun 
to my cheek and fired standing. At that same 
moment I saw something at my side fall heav- 
ily, as a log falls. When I had fired, I saw 
that Behrens was lying there in convulsions. 
I sprang diagonally forward behind the next 
bush, with others following, dropped on one 
knee, and delivered a furious, rapid fire in the 


direction of the smoke at some dark thing 
which was moving behind the bush. I don't 
know how many times I fired. Then my other 
comrade, who was kneeling beside me, fell, and 
in falling dropped his gun. He groaned aloud. 
I threw myself down and fired quickly in order, 
as had been previously arranged, to call the 
attention of other comrades to where I lay 
hard pressed. They sprang up, threw them- 
selves down at intervals and shot as I was do- 
ing at an enemy of whom we saw nothing but 
little clouds of smoke here and there among 
the bushes. We were lying like logs. Close by 
me was an under officer whose left arm was 
bleeding badly. He had propped his gun on a 
dry branch and was firing at short regular in- 
tervals. Bullets were coming from in front and 
both sides. Now I saw something strange com- 
ing at us. In a mass it lay and kneeled and 
slipped through the bushes. I saw no single in- 
dividual, only a group. It came quite near, and 
the balls splintered the bush around me. I 
shouted as loud as I could : " Here, this way ! " 
I almost think that we could have held our own 


in that place till reenf orcements had arrived, 
but just then came the command from the cap- 
tain, "Keep low and fall back ! " I sprang up 
with four companions and ran back one or two 
bushes and flung myself down again. Three 
of us reached there ; one, who was hit as he was 
leaping, stumbled and fell. He tried to creep 
after us, moaning piteously. I lay and shot 
over him and moved a little to one side because 
he was raising his arms in agony. Again we 
sprang up, and while on the run, the man next 
me clutched at his breast, let his gun fall, leaned 
sideways against a bush, and while still stand- 
ing said, with a look at me: "Give my brother 
the book." Then he fell heavily and did not 
stir again. I could not search for the book, for 
at that moment as I turned to shoot, I saw here 
and there in the gray-green bushes, strange 
men in cord uniform rising like snakes out of 
the grass. Glancing around me, I saw that I 
was alone. Then I sprang up and in three or 
four leaps joined some other soldiers, who were 
now going forward stooping, and turned and 
knelt among them to shoot. I saw not far from 


me a black, half-naked figure like an ape, hold- 
ing his gun in his mouth, and climbing with 
hands and feet into a tree. I aimed at him and 
screamed aloud for joy when he fell down the 

When I wanted to fire again and was bend- 
ing my forefinger, my hand suddenly became 
powerless. I got very angry and looked at it 
in a rage. Then I saw blood running out of 
my ragged sleeve and I felt that my arm from 
the elbow down was wet. I heard a dull, wild 
screaming and calling of the enemy in a half- 
circle around me. There was no one near me 
any more. I recalled then the words which my 
father had so often said to me, " When you 
stick your nose into anything, you forget 
everything else." I crept hastily back for a 
little distance on all fours, and then springing 
up, ran on in a crouching position. There was 
still one man running near me, all hanging 
over to one side, with his body bleeding. I 
seized him under the arm as we ran, but he 
fell groaning on one knee and bent together 
as he knelt. I took his gun so that it might 


not fall into the hands of the enemy. My own 
I had thrown over my shoulder. I ran on in 
this way and came, with my comrades, who 
were pressing forward, into a clearing. 

There I saw the old major standing straight 
and placid in the middle of the place, with 
some officers and men about him. Sections 
kept breaking through from the other side of 
the road and dispersed themselves at a motion 
of his hand round about him in the clearing, 
and throwing themselves upon the ground fired 
at the enemy. Behind the men who had come 
up running came the cannon in all haste ; in 
obedience to his motion they were turned 
about just in front of him and were fired over 
the companies lying in front, into the enemy. 
Near a revolving cannon both my guns fell 
from my grasp, my knees lost their strength, 
and I collapsed. I looked in despair at my 
bloody arm. While I was cowering there, I 
reached for the roll of bandage that I had in 
my coat and I managed to get it ; but when I 
wanted to tie it around my arm, the blood 
would not stop and a sailor helped me. Some 


wounded men were already lying and kneel- 
ing there, and others with faces drawn with 
pain came creeping up and lay down behind 
the cannon, which were firing steadily. 

Soon after, when the ammunition wagons 
and ambulances came galloping up, I stood up 
and tried to pull along a chest of ammunition 
wlpch had been knocked open with axes. I 
could help only for a while, I don't know how 
long, for suddenly my knees, which I had 
held firm by main force, gave way under me. 
I slunk back again to the other wounded men 
and sat with them, stemming with my left 
hand the blood which was pouring from my 
wounded arm. Sometimes I would look up ; 
and when I did, I always saw the old major 
searching the whole clearing with his eyes. 

The other men stood or lay in a half -circle 
around the wounded and the sick — who had 
been removed from the wagons and were lying 
indifferent with flushed faces under their 
blankets — and fired furiously at the enemy, 
who were pressing up close. They came so 
near that I saw them. Most of them wore the 


aniform of our home guards?*.4>ut some had 
European summer suits on and/-eome were 
half naked. Their limbs seemed remarkably 
long, their motions remarkably smooth;* and 
tortuous. They slipped and glided and leaped . 
through the bush toward us. Two or three :'".; 
times the artillery fired with shrapnel. It °~ 
roared through the air like a cataract ; than 
it rattled and crackled, and the enemy ga^e 
way. In this way our men, lying and standing 
about us, held out for two hours against a 
wild onslaught, but were unable to advance a 

Finally, however, they began to press for- 
ward in the bush, forced back the enemy, 
and pushed their way to the place where we, 
the rear company, had fought, hoping prob- 
ably to find some who still lived; but they 
were all dead and stripped. They brought in 
the bodies and laid them in a semicircle under 
a tree. I, with some others, started toward 
them ; I wanted to see my two dearest com- 
rades once more, but we were hurried back 
that we might not see the pitiable sight. Some 


comrades w$re already digging a grave; others 
were bajraeading the camp, for we were to 
spencj .tKe* night here. 

ToWard evening, as the sun was setting, the 
d^d were laid in the ground; twenty men 
: . /*:" fired over their open grave; the old major 
V talked of the Fatherland and God, and of 
death and the Easter faith. I sat sore and half 
beside myself, leaning against the side of a 
wagon by the wounded, some of whom were 
talking softly, others sighing painfully, others 
sleeping from exhaustion or lying in a stupor, 
and one or two already gasping in death. 
Gehlsen, who also had a flesh wound in his 
arm, sat near me, and they brought us some 
rice and a cook-pan cover full of water, about 
a pint. I would gladly have drunk three quarts, 
but far or near there was no water. I felt very 
forlorn and suffered torturing homesickness. 

It was lucky for me that Hansen and Wil- 
kins came and, taking hold of me under the 
arms, carried me over to their companions, the 
old Africans, and gave me secretly more water 
and a piece of dry pancake and a blanket. 


They were always somewhat better provided 
than we were. I sat there and heard with 
dulled senses what they were saying. They 
said that the fight had been a slight victory, 
for the enemy had fled ; but it was a success 
too dearly bought. They said, also, that they 
had not given the enemy credit for such great 
bravery, and thought it probable that they 
would attack us again in the morning. I also 
heard them talk of our sick men ; they said 
that with such miserable fare and foul water 
many more would be sick. I wondered in my 
half-sleep why they made so much account of 
the sick ones and did not talk much more 
of the two and thirty who lay in the ground 
under the big tree, and of their parents and 
brothers and sisters. I had grown more and 
more weary, and had wrapped myself in my 
blanket and had laid my burning arm on my 
hip, and heard only now and then a word, till 
all around me seemed quiet. Then there began 
again to be a movement in the bushes. In my 
troubled sleep I heard shots again and saw 
black men round about me, climbing trees, 


their guns in their mouths. The old Africans 
stood on all sides of me and hit with every 
shot ; hut there were too many of the enemy 
and one came and seized me by the arm and 
wanted to take away my protecting blanket. 
Then I groaned, and half awake, half asleep, 
heard Henry Hansen say: " Let him lie there. 
I don't need a blanket. I have the hide of an 

The next morning we had a little rice and 
water. Then the sick and wounded, two of 
whom were unconscious, were lifted into wag- 
ons. I seated myself on the chest in the front 
of the wagon, my arm, which stung and burned, 
in a sling. Behind me, in the long covered 
wagon, in two rows, lay four wounded and two 
sick men. The negro by the oxen raised his 
long thin arms for the first swing of the whip 
and shouted to the beasts. Then the wagon 
wheel struck against the first stone which lay 
in the rut and fell down off it, jolting heav- 
ily, and behind me I heard painful groans. I 
was supporting my well arm on my knee. We 
went on in a long, long train, wagon after 


wagon, with cannon, and comrades marching, 
scattered in between. As we passed the great 
grave under the tree, every one cast once more 
a long look upon it. Those that forgot it at 
first turned and looked back. I thought as I 
passed : " If God brings me back to my home, 
and gives me health and a long life, I will 
stand before that grave once more and think 
whether I am worthy in my own eyes to have 
come alive out of that den of fire." Then the 
dead lay alone. 

One fellow, the one who had a shot in the 
body, was being tortured slowly to death by 
his wound. In the morning he still spoke short 
words in a low voice ; at noon he took a little 
of the dirty water ; soon after you could hear 
the heavy rattling in his throat, and later he 
became unconscious. Toward evening he lay 
with open mouth and set eyes, but I noticed 
from the rising and sinking of his dirty woollen 
blanket that he still lived. One of our one-year 
volunteers, a surgeon, came at every stop and 
looked into the wagon, and I saw quick sym- 
pathy in his eyes. He was not much older than 


I, but he had grown a long, heavy beard in 
the bush. 

When at nightfall I waked from a half- 
sleep, a man from the first platoon, a Rhine- 
lander, was sitting near me on the chest. He 
complained of weakness in his feet and knees, 
and felt first hot and then cold. He looked at 
me out of deep, dry eyes in a strangely con- 
fused way, and great drops of sweat came out 
on his forehead. The surgeon came, felt his 
pulse, looked suspiciously at him, saying to 
himself, " That is the twelfth in seven days," 
and went away again. 

At evening we reached our old camp, where 
we were to remain on our guard against the 
enemy and wait for news. 



That night I couldn't sleep on account of 
fever. I lay with open eyes near the hospital 
and watched them caring for the sick and 
wounded. They took a tent canvas, folded it 
once, stuffed long, dry grass into the sack thus 
formed, laid the sufferers upon it, and did all 
they could for their comfort. Toward morning 
a new patient came in; he walked with drag- 
ging feet and half-closed eyes, pale as death. 
In the forenoon two more came. There were 
already about seventeen wounded and fourteen 
sick lying there. The sick ones lay as apathetic 
as if they had been stunned by a blow on the 
head. If any one questioned them, they said 
they felt no pain, but were exhausted and hot. 
In the next three days twelve more were sick. 
So it went from day to day. It began to be 
said openly that it was typhoid fever due to 


the insufficient, poor food and foul water, and 
to the filth and chilling in the thin, ragged 

When in the morning we had brewed our 
coffee at as big a fire as we could make so as 
to warm ourselves after the cold night, our 
comrades would come up and practice grips as 
if they were in the barrack-yard at Kiel. Then 
they swarmed in squads into the bush, crept 
and slunk and ducked, threw themselves and 
lay ready for an attack, aimed against the sun 
and with the sun, and sprang up and stormed 
with " Hurrah I " But the old Africans jeered 
and said they were n't shouting " Hurrah 1 " 
but "Hunger." At twelve the voice of the 
sergeant sounded from the wagons, " Get ra- 
tions." The men to whom that duty was 
intrusted ran up and came back under the 
canvas with a little flour and rice and salt 
and unroasted coffee. Then in every mess there 
began fire-making and stirring and talking 
and advice and spooning and eating. I could 
n't do anything more than carry a little water. 
At three, drill began again. The men sat in 


the rifle-pits in squads under corporals and 
cleaned their arms. I sat with them. Conver- 
sation was slow and dragging. A melancholy 
song was started: "Zu Strassburg auf der 
Schanz'," or "Steh* ich in finstrer Mitter- 
nacht." But it sounded dull and soon died 
out* It got dark very quickly evenings. We 
used to sit in the lee of a tent canvas and talk 
of all sorts of things and sing songs. From the 
tent of the old major we would catch the sound 
of a laugh or an invective. Out of the dark 
opening of the long hospital tent flashed the 
wandering light of the orderly as he went from 
one to another. Here and there a light would 
glimmer in a fire-hole. Under the trees the 
negroes used to sit and sing in unison a choral 
taught them by the missionaries. Then an 
officer off duty would come by from the non- 
commissioned officers' posts which surrounded 
the camp, and calling shortly to the negroes to 
hold their tongues, " Will jelle slap/' would 
go into his tent. 

So passed one day like another. Wonderful 
rumors flew continually through the camp : a 


thousand cavalry were on the way from Ger- 
many to help us ; the governor had beaten the 
negroes in a battle lasting two days ; there were 
numberless negroes killed and their bodies had 
been burned on pyres. Probably the conversa- 
tion turned no less than fifty times upon the 
subject of our dismissal and return home. That 
was our favorite theme ! Home ! What happy 
faces they would wear there ! What should n't 
we have to tell ? When the little reconnoitring 
party of five or six men on thin, worn-out 
horses came back it was soon known at every 
cooking-hole what they had reported, and we 
founded great assertions on the news. Each 
one was a staff-officer and wiser than all the 
rest. And then when we have beaten the enemy 
one way or another we '11 go home ! That was 
always the conclusion. Oh, to go home ! We 
all, every one of us, wanted to go home. 

The oppressive heat of the days and the 
piercing cold of the nights, the wretched fare 
and the miserable water, were making more 
and more of the men weak, sluggish, and 
indifferent. We all spoke another language, 


without life and without emphasis, just as 
though we were drunk with sleep. Some few 
kept cheerful. Henry Gehlsen used often to 
come and cheer me up. In spite of his 
wounded arm he was always active and inter- 
ested in everything new that he saw: in a bird 
in the air, in a cloud in the sky, in the speech 
of the black drivers, and in the fever of the 
sick ones. Henry Hansen, the old guardsman, 
used to nod surreptitiously to me, and in the 
shelter of the commissariat wagon would slip 
a morsel of cold pancake into my hand. My 
arm, which had been shot through, was fever- 
ish and painful, and besides that I had a hor- 
rid oppressed feeling in my body, and I was 
so exhausted that sometimes in broad daylight, 
as I sat at the fire-hole and watched the life 
about me, my eyes would shut, my chin would 
drop on my breast, and I would slowly fall 
over to one side and sleep. 

Singing in camp was now becoming more 
and more infrequent and conversation more 
and more forced. We were getting continually 
dirtier, hungrier, and sicker. Apathetic and 


silent, we saw every night one or two of our 
number laid in the strange, gray earth, clad 
in their torn, dirty rags and wrapped in their 
gray woollen blankets. Heavily and wearily 
those who were commanded to shoot in honor 
of the dead raised their arms; wearily and 
with dulled senses they shoveled the earth 
over their comrades and laid thorn branches 
above them. In the night I used to be wak- 
ened by the tired, delirious talking of the 
sick ones, and by the howling of the jackals 
which scented the graves. 

After we had been for two weeks in this 
camp, matters had come to such a pass that 
every fourth man was sick. They lay in full 
uniform in two long rows on the ground, with 
tent canvas stretched over them as protection 
from the burning sun. They had to lie there, 
seriously sick, not only without any sort of 
medicine, but also without proper nourish- 
ment. We had neither milk nor eggs. We 
hadn't even a piece of dry bread. We hadn't 
even a bit of cleanliness. 

The old major conducted himself as though 


he had good courage still, and did everything 
he could think of for us. The last joy on earth 
to many a one was a kind, cheerful word 
spoken by him. I used often to see him com- 
ing out of the hospital tent and often was 
gladdened by his kindly consolation. But 
when more and more of us fell ill, and more 
and more went indifferently about their work, 
and still no news or provisions or hospital sup- 
plies came, even he had to give up hope. He 
probably thought of going on again, but he 
realized that his little troop would no longer 
present the appearance of an army, but rather 
that of a transport of sick soldiers. Then he 
sent messengers to the main division to report 
that he was powerless and must desist from 
harassing the enemy, and that he could not 
any longer see this dying off of the young 
men, and that he wanted to seek a place with 
a better water-supply. 


Then they packed those who were severely 
wounded and the sick on the wagons, while I 
crouched inactive, with dull, confused head, 
and inflamed and burning arm, by the wheel 
of the ammunition wagon. 

The well men marched beside and behind 
the wagon. A few sat on worn, rough horses. 
So we started on a .depressing journey. I sat 
in the provision wagon conducted by Hansen. 
We used to sit side by side for hours while he 
smoked his short pipe and spoke an occasional 

Once a man in delirium sprang right out of 
the wagon into the bush and was never seen 
again. Then guards had to be stationed about 
the wagons so that no one could escape. One 
of those who had the fever attacked a doctor 
with his side-arms, and another who was still 


in the ranks shot wildly around him. Three of 
the sick died on the way and were buried in 
the bush. The one-year volunteer was surgeon, 
nurse, and soldier, all in one. His face was 
growing narrower and paler, but his beard was 
getting longer and thicker. 

On the third night several oxen collapsed 
and one died. We stopped our wagon to help 
them. I don't know how it happened that the 
rest of the force went on. They probably 
thought that the place for bivouac was close 
by and that we would follow immediately. 
But we were delayed an hour. Then we con- 
tinued on the narrow road in the bush, in the 
dark night, — ten sick men with three men to 
protect them and the drivers saying they had 
seen the enemy in the bush. I climbed pain- 
fully into the wagon and told the two wounded 
men, who were partly in possession of their 
senses and had some strength, how things 
stood with us. They half sat up and took 
their guns and held watch with us till we 
could go on. 

On the fourth day of our retreat we reached 


a good water-supply. There was there a small, 
very simple church which the mission had 
built, and the partially destroyed house of the 
missionary. In this building beds made of grass 
and blankets were prepared on the ground. 
The well men encamped some hundred yards 
above on a hilL There we were to remain 
until the disease had run itself out among us. 
At that time we heard that the campaign had 
come to a standstill for the present, because 
the insurrection had assumed too great pro- 
portions for the small German force which 
was at the time available in the colony. 

When we had been encamped there for 
about ten days, provisions finally arrived, and 
mattresses and also strengthening food for 
the sick ; such things as wine, bouillon, white 
of egg, cocoa, and Quaker oats, so that at last 
they had beds and enough to eat. We, too, 
were well fed, but we still had to go on wear- 
ing our horribly dirty clothing. 

We lived in the greatest despondency, all 
sick, and some dying every day. I made my- 
self useful as far as I could. Languid and 


with dull head I went about among the sick ; 
with my sound left hand gave water to one 
and a piece of zwieback to another, and helped 
a third to sit up a little to attend to the needs 
of nature. 

In these miserable, gloomy weeks two com- 
rades came especially near to me. Formerly, 
when we were well, we had hardly known one 
another. One was a Thuringian boy, with 
childlike, brown eyes, who said little. Even 
on the ship it had struck me that he was very 
silent and looked surprised at everything. 
Afterwards, when we had landed and pushed 
our way into the bush, his eyes became more 
and more timid, and his mouth more and 
more mutely closed. For the rest he had a 
strong body and bore everything well and 
without complaining, and he stood his ground 
in a fight. Now he was sick in bed. With his 
gun and his blanket he had come down to us 
from the camp, shivering and with dull eyes, 
and he said, with a shy attempt at a jest, as 
he lay down : " Now I shall be a gentleman 
of leisure with you the rest of my days." I 


now talked often with him, more by signs 
and suggestion than by means of words, for 
our throats were dried-out tubes and our 
thoughts had dragging feet. Then I under- 
stood that to him everything which we had 
experienced since leaving Kiel had been un- 
canny and horrible, — the everlasting expanse 
of the open sea, the forbidding, defiant coast 
of England, the sublime Peak of Teneriffe, 
the unfamiliar constellations, the scorching 
sun, the bare shore of Swakopmund, the sight 
of our dead, the dying of comrades. For all 
these great and hard things his soul was not 
tough enough. He died of dysentery and 
heart weakness on the seventh day. 

The other was already very sick when we 
moved into this camp. He was born in Nurem- 
berg and had spent his childhood there. When 
he was fifteen years old he had left his home 
because of a stepfather, and since that time 
had wandered restlessly over the world. He 
had traveled out to South America from Bre- 
men as a steward, had gone straight through 
to Chile, had seen Samoa, and had been a waiter 


in San Francisco. There he had enlisted in the 
United States Navy, but not for long. A few 
hundred marks in his pocket had enabled him 
to travel from New Orleans to Australia to dig 
gold, but he found little or none. When Aus- 
tralia was enlisting volunteers to fight against 
the Boers, he had come over as a trimmer, but 
to help the Boers. He was captured and had 
survived some bad days on the Island of Cey- 
lon. From there he had returned to Cape Town, 
and, at the first news of revolt in our colony, 
had volunteered. I believe there are not many 
Germans who wander so restlessly and madly 
and with such foolish good-nature through the 
world. The whole life of such is passed run- 
ning indiscriminately, at the first impulse of 
a restless, unstable mind, into the right or 
wrong path, and after that course is run, plung- 
ing without reflection or regret at the next 
object which comes just then into their field 
of vision. He railed against the English, the 
Americans, and most of all against the Boers, 
but I was convinced that he would have run 
to the Japanese or the French if there had 


been any trouble in those quarters. It is bad 
when a human being has no control over his 
life. He was lying now very sick with typhoid 
fever, indulging in all sorts of fancies, although 
he had so confidently believed and boasted that 
he was too well hardened to be sick. When 
he was slowly recovering he became perfectly 
reasonable and narrated to me his whole life. 
For an entire week, however, he clung to the 
delusion that both his legs had been shot off. 
Many an hour I sat by him, and I learned a 
great deal from his conversation. What be- 
came of him afterwards I do not know. 

I was still strong enough to keep about on 
my feet, but once when I went out of camp, 
as I was obliged to do many times a day, I 
found that I had symptoms of dysentery. Then 
I went back to the others, all my courage gone, 
and I sat and brooded and firmly believed that 
I should have to die here ; and I reconciled 
myself to this fate with mournful reflections 
and thought sadly of my parents. I said no- 
thing to the surgeon, but there was a hospital 
attendant there whom I asked about it and he 


said: "You have typhoid in one part of your 
body and dysentery in another, but you have 
a lucky nature and you '11 pull through/' And 
he gave me some pills. I took the pills exactly 
as he directed; but I didn't believe the rest 
of his preaching, for he was half out of his 
mind. There were many in this campaign, offi- 
cers, surgeons, hospital attendants, and soldiers, 
who were still doing their duty faithfully, just 
as an engine continues to run for a little while 
after the steam is shut off ; but inwardly they 
were already sick and full of confused visions. 
One evening — I had already been for weeks 
in the typhoid hospital — some one had re- 
ceived a letter, I think from Swakopmund. In 
it among other things it was said that every- 
body in Germany was talking about the Russo- 
Japanese war, but nobody mentioned us ; in- 
deed, people made sport of us and our distress 
as they do of men who are contending for a 
ridiculous and lost cause, and they did n't want 
to hear anything about us because they said 
we did n't understand how to make a quick 
conquest. I wanted at first to throw away the 


letter, but then I thought I would show it to 
Henry Hansen. He did n't come, however, but 
the next day another old guardsman came and 
I showed him the letter, for all my courage 
had deserted me. He read it and laughed, say- 
ing: "What surprises you in that? Hasn't 
it always been so? How many wives has the 
King of Siam? What kind of garters does the 
Queen of Spain wear? What answer did you 
get to the post-card you sent the Japanese 
general? See! That's the sort of thing that 
¥ interests the German. You just ought to hear 
how the English on every street-corner laugh 
at us Johnnies and boasters. The Englishman 
asks at every turn of affairs : ' What use will 
this be to me and to England?'" And with 
that he went off. 

I went back to my sick comrades, fetched 
my blanket, and seated myself on the ground 
at one side of the entrance to the hospital 
tent. It was a cold, disagreeable evening. In 
the thicket dry branches were snapping; 
vultures were flying toward the high trees 
which rose thick and dark above the bush. 


From behind me came intermittently the loud 
wailing of a very sick soldier. A fellow who 
was slightly sick sat crouched down in front 
of the provision tent on a chest that had been 
half smashed in and sang in a melancholy, 
weary voice, our old song : — 

Dooh mein Schicksal will es nimmer, 
Durch die Welt ich wandern mass. 
Trantes Heim, dein denk' ich immer, 
Trantes Heim, dir gilt mein Gross. 
Sei gegriisflt in weiter Ferae, 
Teure Heimat, sei gegrtisst. 

Two comrades, wrapped in their cloaks, their 
spades on their shoulders, went across to the 
hill, to dig a new grave. 



Ik the fourth week of my stay in the typhoid 
camp I heard that fresh troops had come from 
Germany and that still more would come, all 
Huzzars, four thousand in all, and that now 
the campaign was to go forward with more 
vigor. But to me that was all indifferent news, 
and I thought : "If you were only out of this 
monkey-land ! " 

But in the fifth week the force of my dis- 
ease was spent. As health and strength slowly 
returned, I thought that it was n't good to go 
home after such experiences as I had had. 
I wanted to be on hand for the second and 
better part of the campaign, for the " quick 

It happened that a first lieutenant with a 
little scouting party of three men came to us 
from the east. On the way he had lost one 


man, and he had to leave another as a typhoid 
patient. One day I stopped him and begged 
him to take me with him. He asked me if I 
could ride. I said, " Yes," although I had not 
sat on a horse since the days of my childhood, 
and even then never on a saddle. He looked at 
me distrustfully and said: "You'll fall off 
your horse on the way." " At your service, 
sir/' I said, " I am as strong as a tree " ; and 
I looked at him. He was thin as a rail, and 
his eyes glittered under his forehead. " I have 
led a dog's life for four months," said he. 
"At your service, sir," I said, "so have I, 
and for that reason I want to get away from 
here." Then he got my dismissal from the 

Before morning dawned I went to the 
horses, which were already standing tied to 
our wagons, and said to the under officer, who 
was one of the party and was standing near 
the horses, that I had never yet ridden on a 
saddle. He abused me roundly at first and 
asked me if I knew even which end of a horse 
was the front and which the back. I thought 


to myself, "Don't make him quite wild," 
and I seized the saddle, went up to the animal, 
and recalling to mind how I had in my life 
seen a horse saddled, put it on not so far 
wrong. Then he began again to berate me 
violently and to show me how to do it right. 
Then I practiced mounting and dismounting 
and thought : " That will do, all right." The 
next day I learned from the other man that 
the under officer had only a little while before 
mounted a horse for the first time in his life, 
and had made a great deal more fuss about it 
than I. Then I wondered at the extraordinary 
boarders on God's earth. Indeed, I have often 
been amazed at them. 

So on that morning, after I bad been four 
months in the bush and wilderness, I rode with 
the scouting party to the west, to Windhuk. 
My companions had been out here just as long 
as I. I was very much in fear of the first trot, 
but it went tolerably well. With light heart but 
sore body I rode along, energetically nodding 
my head all the time. The next day it went 
much better. The lieutenant, a tall Bhinelan- 


der, was a pleasant man ; he often talked with 
me and seemed pleased with me. 

After we had ridden for two days through 
a barren, deserted region, we began to ap- 
proach the city. When we saw from afar the 
first telegraph pole, we called one another's 
attention to it, and we surveyed the long, thin 
thing with joyous eyes. As we rode by the 
first house that wasn't roofless and hadn't 
burned-out window-holes, we admired it very 
much, and when we noticed that proper fur- 
niture, a table and chairs, were standing on the 
open veranda, we stared in astonishment and 
turned in our saddles to look till we had passed. 
With wide-open eyes we gazed into the garden, 
which in former years the colonist had laid out 
with great care. There were really the palms 
and arbors of which we had dreamed and 
talked in Kiel and on the water, and there was 
a pond ! Oh, if only we could ride into it ! 
And there in the shade of the veranda stood a 
German woman, and she held a little child on 
her arm. How we looked! How we rejoiced 
over the light clean dress she wore, and her 


friendly face, and the little white child ! We 
gazed as though at a miracle from heaven at 
a sight any one could see every day in Ger- 
many, — just like the three holy kings who 
came out of the desert and looked from their 
horses upon Mary and her child. She looked 
at us, ragged, dirty, hungry fellows, and bowed 
in a friendly way, with big sympathetic eyes, 
when we all, as though at a command, raised 
our hands to our caps. 

Weary, but with spirit, our horses mounted 
the sandy road to the fort. In the yard, where 
there were some soldiers and some Hottentot 
women, we dismounted and looked after our 
horses. The lieutenant went to the commandant 
to make his report. 

But I, when we had cared for our beasts, 
walked across the yard, stretching my arms out 
on both sides — so disgusting did I seem to 
myself — and went into a room and had given 
out to me a whole, new cord uniform, with 
riding boots. I pushed back my ragged left 
sleeve and laid the clothes over my arm and 
went in a hurry straight over to the bathhouse, 


where I tore off my rags, plunged into the 
water, and washed and soaped and scrubbed 
till my whole body was red. 

When I came out into the yard again in my 
fine new home-guard uniform, the lieutenant 
was talking with a citizen and did not recog- 
nize me. Then he laughed and said something 
to the man about me, at which the latter turned 
and said : " I am the husband of the woman 
who was standing with her child on the ve- 
randa when you rode by. She would like to 
thank you for your friendly greeting. Will 
you be our guest this evening?" I was so 
pleased that I blushed. 

So that evening, after I had had another bath 
and had scrubbed myself again, I went out to 
the neighborhood of the house and waited till 
the lieutenant had gone in and then went in 
just behind him. When I entered the living- 
room the man shook hands with me, and his 
wife talked kindly to me and showed me the 
child ; and then I sat down with them at the 
table and stared dumbly at the white table- 
cloth and the plates and the bread and milk 


and sugar; and I listened to the woman's lovely 
voice. In that hour I could have been over- 
happy if I had been able to keep from think- 
ing of my sick and dead comrades. 

When I took my leave after supper and 
went up to the fort, I saw some soldiers laugh- 
ing with Hottentot women, and one fellow 
said to me as he passed that these women 
were at our disposal at any time. That made 
me angry, and I went up to the long veranda 
that lies to the west. I stood there a long 
time and looked over to the mountains, gilded 
by the sinking sun ; and I thought of home 
with violent longing. 

I lived for three weeks at the fort, and from 
the better food that I received there, and 
from the cleanliness which I enjoyed, I re- 
gained strength more and more. I wrote three 
whole days on a detailed letter home, and I 
often went to the house of the merchant to 
play with the baby and to talk with its parents. 

As the campaign at this time had come 
entirely to a standstill, the enemy were very 
bold. Their mounted parties came down from 


the north and harassed and surprised our 
commissariat trains, our scouting parties, and 
our cattle guards. They even dared to come 
close to the capital, and drove off our cattle 
and shot several of our men. I often sat on 
horseback with others to watch for them, but 
we seldom got a shot at them. 

I had a great deal of conversation with fel- 
low-soldiers who were in this command, or 
who, like myself, were at Windhuk on account 
of illness, or who came and went ; and with 
the Boers whom the government had taken 
on as freight-carriers, and with farmers who 
had fled here from the bush. 

Among all these various men who had 
gathered here from all quarters, and were 
always coming and going, the wildest 
rumors were rife. For though in war times 
especially distorted reports are always coming 
to light anew and are believed and spread 
abroad by excited minds, South Africa in 
particular, from Congo to the Cape, on ac- 
count of its incipient and rapidly and rest- 
lessly developing political life, and on account 


of the immense distances, and the numberless 
idle hours which trekking with oxen causes, 
was spun over with a monstrous gossip. One 
may say that South Africa is like a great 
building in process of construction, in all the 
rooms of which mechanics are pounding and 
hammering. The noise resounds loud and 
clear through all the great, empty rooms. 

But often after such talks I used to go out 
alone on the veranda and look off into the 
broad country to the west and see the sun 
set. And as it sank, I saw light, white clouds 
descend out,of the sky and spread out like a 
garment. And I watched the garment sink 
slowly down before the sun to the earth, and 
I saw how the departing sun painted it all 
the colors of the rainbow. Blended in delicate 
stripes, they glided down to the earth. At 
the side to the south shone a mighty moun- 
tain range of naked stone, which reflected the 
light like metal ; but in the parts where the 
failing light no longer reached it, it menaced 
hard and gloomy. I stood watching it with 
ever new wonder intil the whole beautiful 


picture faded and night and the stars came 
quickly on. And the stars were beautiful, too ! 
How wonderfully hot they glowed in the deep 
black sky ! But I only thought, at the sight 
of all this splendor of the day and night : " Oh, 
Africa, if I were only at home ! " 



At the beginning of the fourth week I felt 
that I had entirely regained my health, and 
the lazy life here was becoming loathsome to 
me. Just in this week the lieutenant was pre- 
paring himself to go north to the front ; so I 
told him what I had at heart, that I would 
gladly go on and make the new campaign with 
him. He started up as he usually did, and 
grumbled : " What ! you want to go with me ? 
Where are the others, then ?" I replied: "One 
third are dead; another third are sick and 
wounded; the rest are scattered here and there 
in military posts." He regarded me thought- 
fully and said: "You poor rascals! Tou were 
so smart and saucy when you arrived and you 
have experienced nothing but suffering and 
death. Have n't you had enough of it ? Well, 
I '11 take you down with me." I was very glad 


and bought for myself all sorts of trifles, and 
on the third day we set out. 

After a day's journey toward the coast we 
reached a great station where all the necessaries 
which had come from the coast for the new 
campaign were stored: horses from Argentine; 
oxen and wagons from Cape Town; horses, 
ammunition, clothing, preserves, and hospital 
supplies from Germany. When I had passed 
through this place five months before, it had 
consisted of five or six houses of corrugated 
iron ; now it was an army encampment. In the 
station building, where the general and his 
staff were, officers, orderlies, and dispatch mes- 
sengers, most of whom, not having been in 
the bush, were pretty clean, were running in 
and out. A crowd of young officers and pri- 
vates were breaking a lot of horses and mules, 
only just come from Argentine, to harness or 
saddle. I have never in my life heard a man 
storm and swear as did one lieutenant who, 
with twenty men all in shirtsleeves, with long 
ropes in their hands, was working among a lot 
of mules which were almost as excited as the 


men themselves. Batteries were standing in 
the ranks being cleaned, tried, and harnessed 
up. In front of some long tents, in which enor- 
mous quantities of food stores were piled, 
were great covered wagons, getting their loads. 
Black drivers were coming from the distant 
meadow, screaming loudly at the oxen which 
they harnessed, twelve pair to each wagon. 
The Boer, proprietor of wagon, oxen, and driv- 
ers, seated himself on the brilliantly painted 
chest which stood in the front of the wagon, 
or himself took the long whip. Then the escort 
came up. With loud geeing and hawing the 
procession started northward out of the camp, 
in a cloud of dust. From the wheelwright and 
blacksmith shop were heard pounding and 
ringing of metal until late in the night. From 
the canteens came loud laughter and talk. 

From the front, on the north, open columns 
were coming in daily, most of them bringing 
along sick men. As I came up to one wagon 
which had just arrived, the surgeon had already 
climbed in and was talking to a sick fellow : 
" Well, my boy, how goes it ? Oh, answer ! 


You can just tell me how you are, can't you?" 
Then he turned to the man lying next and 
said: " Why does n't he say anything?" The 
man spoken to gathered himself together out 
of his confusion and said in Low German: 
"He's dead/' The surgeon turned to the 
guards and said : " Why did n't you bury him 
on the way? " They replied : " We did n't want 
to leave him there alone ; we had n't time to 
bury him properly, and the jackals would have 
dug him out again." Beside the dead on the 
hard boards of the wagon lay the living, most 
of them unconscious or out of their heads, 
wearing their uniforms and boots, with their 
guns and soft hats beside them, their lips and 
tongues parched, and their eye-sockets deep 
and blue. In this condition they had been on 
the road for a week. 

The hospital was a long barrack of corru- 
gated iron. I heard that an acquaintance from 
Itzehoe was lying there, and I went in to visit 
him. Row upon row of typhoid patients lay 
close together, each one with a mosquito net 
stretched around him, like a baby in its carriage. 


Some lay silent, with pale, sunken eyes ; others 
cheered on the horses in loud tones, or saw 
fire-light, or shouted commands, each in the 
dialect of his province, Low-German, Saxon, 
or Bavarian j others were convalescent and lay 
there pale, following me with their eyes. One 
nodded to me. The man from Itzehoe was 
unconscious. When I was again outside, I drew 
a deep breath ; and I was depressed for a long 
time. There was a flag on the hospital which 
the officer on guard used to raise every morn- 
ing, but it was no use ; every forenoon an or- 
derly would make a short report to him and 
the flag would be hauled down. 

On the fourth day we set out with a com- 
missariat train of six Cape wagons, with Boers, 
drivers, and oxen, which was conducted by the 
first lieutenant. Ten men, all mounted, escorted 
the train as guard. I was responsible for three 
wagons, and rode a dark brown Argentine 
horse, which, though thin, was in good con- 

Just as we, amid cracking of whips and 
great hallooing on the part of the drivers, were 


riding northward out of the camp between the 
heavily rocking wagons, a scouting party of 
the enemy succeeded in setting fire to the 
broad, dry grass field on the mountain which 
rose to the east of the station, in order to de- 
prive us of the good pasturage. The whole ex- 
tent of the mountain flamed with red tongues 
of fire. In a fury it flung itself like a red net 
over the field of bush; with broad front it 
crawled more slowly down into the plain. The 
entire camp stood and looked at the pageant 
and railed at the injury which the enemy had 
done us. 

Even the first day's march was very tax- 
ing. Now it led through bottomless sand, now 
over rough, stony ground. Many dead cattle, 
already skeletons or half devoured or in the 
early stages of decay, lay stinking right by the 
narrow track. Vultures circled over us and 
jackals howled in the bush. We rested toward 
night in a little church which was full of sick 
men. In the missionary's house everything 
was smashed to bits, but over the door of the 
living-room there still hung a piece of paste- 


board, on which were the words, " Love your 
enemies." In the little churchyard not far 
from the church lay a long row of our men 
buried here in the last few months. On a cap- 
tain's grave there was a palm leaf certainly 
three yards long. 

The higher we ascended the more frequently 
lay the dead animals by the road, and the 
worse was the pasturage. Wherever possible 
the enemy had cut the grass or burned it, and 
the rest our troops had used. Again, as before, 
we saw on the march not a house or permanent 
inhabitant ; the only things we met Were open 
columns returning to the camp, and once a 
single horseman. I happened to be the advance 
rider and hailed him familiarly, thinking he 
was a comrade or at the highest a non-com- 
missioned officer. When he came nearer I saw, 
however, from his face, that he was a higher 
officer. He gave me a friendly reply and rode 
on. He was dressed like a private soldier. 

This long, wearisome trekking through the 
broad, monotonous country devoid of human 
beings ; this lying and smoking in the resting 


hours in the shade of the wagons, and the 
familiar, comfortable, slow talking, — teasing 
and a little bragging; this meagre food and 
scanty drink ; a shot in the bush at a flock of 
partridges, or, if good luck would have it so, 
at an antelope; four hours' sleep by the flicker- 
ing fire with my saddle under my head, — all 
this I was now experiencing again. And it 
seemed to me, now that I was for the second 
time on the road, as if I had known this 
country for a long, long time; as if long, long 
ago, before I was born, I had passed through 
a wild land beside a wagon and had slept and 
rested in its shelter. Such a feeling is due 
probably to the fact that these are the experi- 
ences of the forefathers, which sleep a long 
sleep through generations and again raise their 
hoary heads in the fancy of the child who is 
again led in the same ways and by-paths. 

On the third evening, when we reached a 
water-place just at nightfall, we found a re- 
turning train of three wagons already camp- 
ing there. They were just digging a grave, for 
one of the typhoid-fever patients whom they 


had brought had died. I sprang into the grave 
and made it half a yard deeper ; they would n't 
wait any longer. Then we lowered him by 
bridle-straps fastened together, in his full uni- 
form, and we laid his hat over his face. By 
his grave stood six Germans, burned brown, 
eight Boers, still browner, all wearing soft 
hats and high boots, and seventeen black men. 
The Boers shot over him. When his mother 
in a village in Pomerania held him on her lap, 
she did not dream that he would go to his 
grave so young, so far away, and with such a 
strange following. 

When, late in the evening, we went over to 
the Boers' fire to ask them about the condi- 
tion of affairs at the front, I noticed that a 
good dark brown horse was tied to the last 
wagon. I resolved to nab him for myself and 
began to look for an opportunity. We were 
to go on soon after midnight. When we were 
setting out, I sneaked back ; but the Boers' 
dog barked and there was something stirring 
back of the wagon. I leaped away then, and 
a shot cracked behind me. The lieutenant and 


the others laughed at the long jumps I took. 
I was always on the lookout after that to see 
how I might capture a horse, for my Argen- 
tiner was induced to trot with more and more 
difficulty from day to day, and I knew from 
the many dead horses along our route that 
the front was badly provided with them. If I 
did not have a horse there, I should be only 
half a soldier, and above all I could not then 

At evening on the fourth day we overtook 
another provision column, which had been de- 
layed by the oxen straying off. We rested for 
the night at the same water-place with this 
column and kept with it the next day. 

The man who conducted this train had al- 
ready been six years in the country. He had 
first been for three years in the home guard, 
then he had become a trader; that is, he had 
gone out from the railroad with an ox wagon 
and had traveled about in the interior toward 
the north, selling plug tobacco, colored calico, 
and schnapps to the blacks, and getting his 
pay in calves and oxen. In Windhuk he had 


sold these to a wholesale dealer, but had al- 
ways put a few out to graze in the care of a 
friendly farmer. He had already in this way 
gained for himself a considerable capital and 
had had the intention to go north once more, 
but this time to buy land in the neighborhood 
of the friendly farmer. Then the whole black 
population round about him had revolted in 
furious hate against their hard, sly, foreign 
plunderers. He had saved himself with great 
difficulty, together with all his goods, to the 
souths and had enlisted now as a reserve. 

I asked him many questions and he an- 
swered deliberately as he lay by the wagon 
with his short black scheck-pipe in his mouth. 
I asked him how he went about it to establish 
a farm. " I hunt out a place with good pastur- 
age and good water/' he replied ; " then I get 
the government to allot me about five thou- 
sand hectares. It is not as exact as in Ger- 
many; the line would go from the tree to the 
water-hole, and then to the path, and so on. 
Then I let the few cattle that I own graze 
there, and they feed and water themselves and 


multiply just as in the time of Abraham and 
Jacob. After two or three years I have already 
a whole herd. Meanwhile I build myself a lit- 
tle stone house. When I begin by degrees to 
sell off a few cattle, I get a better house." I 
asked him if in spite of the revolt and all the 
devastation he would stay in the country. 
" See! " he said, " here you can go and stay 
and rest and trek a hundred miles and no one 
tells you what you are to do or not to do, and 
you have no anxiety about your neighbor on 
the next floor or across the hall, or about the 
paper in the living-room, or your daily bread. 
When you have eaten one calf, you kill an- 
other. If you don't care for veal any longer, 
you kill a goat. Or you go on a hunt as far 
as you please, three hours or three days, and 
if you don't get a shot just right at anything 
on the way, you tighten up your belt a little." 
I asked if he would probably marry. He 
looked sidelong at me and said : " When the 
war is over, a girl with whom I have entered 
into an understanding by correspondence is 
coming out. I know her parents and I know 


her a little, too. The farmers' wives here have 
a good time of it, you can believe, — little 
work, no envy and quarreling, plenty of land, 
cows, and oxen, a horse to ride, and no anx- 
iety about getting enough to live on." So he 
told me, and I was glad to hear it all; and I 
could perfectly understand all he said. 

The bush was becoming somewhat less dense. 
Sometimes we would pass with our long train 
through a magnificent open plain ; then again 
our course would lead through thick bush so 
tall that one could, if need be, ride through it 
under the treetops, which touched each other. 
The days were clear and hot, as almost always 
in this country; the nights were cold, once so 
cold that our beards got icy and the water- 
sacks froze. The further to the north we went, 
the more frequent were great tracts which the 
enemy had burned to take our pasturage from 
us. Every evening we saw a deep glow of fire 
to the north of us. Around the water-places 
the fields were bare for a considerable distance ; 
the water was poor and had been polluted be- 
sides. More and more frequently horses which 


had collapsed and oxen which had got weak 
and had dropped in front of their wagons were 
lying in the road. Often they used to make 
a fire behind these flabby oxen to get them up, 
but they lay there and died on the same spot. 
On the eighth day there was a dead or dying 
animal every half-mile. 

In the forenoon of the eighth day we saw 
not far to the north of us the elliptical balloon 
that floated in the air over the camp. So at 
noon we rested only during the worst of the 
heat and then pushed on, reaching the camp 
at evening. 

The men there were just at their cooking. 
In their high, yellow boots, full trousers, and 
shirtsleeves, they were sitting or bustling about 
the cooking-holes, and they called to us as we 
marched through to know if we had brought 
mail with us. They seemed to be in good spir- 
its; the majority of them had, indeed, been 
only a month on land. In one corner was 
quartered a whole troop of Wittboys, hideous- 
looking men with wild, yellow faces. They had 
come from the south of our colony to help us, 


and wore our uniform and were commanded 
by German officers. In another corner the 
great black horde of drivers were encamped 
around their fire, laughing and talking. Wag- 
ons and fieldpieces were standing around sin- 
gly or in groups. But I was surprised the next 
morning to see how full the hospital was. I 
was surprised, too, at the horses; not that they 
had become rough from the cold nights, but 
that they were so thin and worn out. Many 
had in addition bad wounds around the mouth 
from the dry, sharp grass, and some had on 
their flanks great open sores covered with 
flies. Many of the men had lost their horses 
and were going on foot. 

We were the centre division of the six great 
divisions which were coming upon the enemy 
in a half -circle in order to crush them, and for 
that reason we were the headquarters. That 
same evening I saw the general addressing a 
scouting party, which then rode out into the 
night. He was a decided-looking, erect man, 
with gray hair and eyes. 

We were no longer far from the enemy. 


Every reconnoitring party that was sent ahead 
and came back got sight of them. Some of 
these parties suffered severe losses, and one, led 
by a lieutenant, was entirely annihilated. I 
was glad to be again in a real army among so 
many cheerful soldiers, and I quite revived. 
Every day we practiced industriously in the 
bush, making sallies, slinking, and creeping 
through, and storming ; we cleaned our arms, 
and did our mending and cooking. Once I 
was off all day long hunting strayed horses. 
I found them and appropriated one, a light 
brown East Prussian, and in exchange put my 
Argentine among those that I found. I think 
the lieutenant noticed it, but he didn't say 
anything. He had taken me into his company. 

In the evenings some of us who got on well 
together and liked each other used to gather 
under a wagon or by a cook-hole. Of my old 
comrades I met only Gehlsen and Peters again, 
who were now wagon conductors in the staff 
guard. Among the new ones was one from 

I sat now among almost entirely new fellows 


and listened to their conversation. I had be- 
come more silent after all I had gone through, 
and from the extent and barrenness and heat 
of the land in which I had now lived for six 
months I had become slower and more apa- 
thetic than was really my nature. They used 
to like to talk about their former service or 
their homes or their callings. At last this one 
and that one came to speak of the reasons 
that had led them to enlist as volunteers for 
South Africa. Some wanted to stay in the 
army and get promoted faster. Some wanted 
to earn a little money from the war bounty in 
order to help their parents or to make them- 
selves independent in their vocations. Many 
had been driven out by a youthful joy and 
enthusiasm, the Germanic desire for war and 
foreign parts. Some enlisted in order to see a 
bit of the world at the expense of the govern- 
ment. Some, so it seemed to me, wanted to 
experience something about which they could 
boast for the rest of their lives. Some were 
silent as to the reasons which had impelled 
them ; but those who knew them well said of 


one that he had had the misfortune accident- 
ally to kill a schoolmate while playing with him, 
and of another that he had been thrown over 
by his sweetheart. These two were quiet fel- 
lows and often sat apart from the rest. But 
we talked mostly about the enemy, about their 
method of fighting, about their strength and 
intentions, and about the decisive blow that we 
wanted to inflict on them. 

There were also among us some privates who 
had formerly been officers and had in some 
way lost their swords. As they might hope to 
regain their rank only in a war, they had longed 
for the outbreak of hostilities and had imme- 
diately applied as volunteers for the Southwest. 
Now they were common soldiers. One of these 
talked on the very first evening, with big words, 
a great deal about recognition of duty, self- 
discipline, sense of honor, and such things, so 
that I thought: "What an honorable man! 
How could he have lost his sword?" But 
soon after and later I observed in the sand-field 
that he was making these speeches for him- 
self, for he was always sulking and grumbling, 


especially at those who were set over him, from 
the non-commissioned officer up to the general 
himself, and he shirked every sort of work. 
Another was a lovable, helpful, and cheerful 
comrade whom we all liked and for whom we 
all wished the best. He was brave, too, at 
Hamakari. But he probably never attained his 
object, and if he had it would n't have been of 
much use to him, for when the chance came 
he forgot all his good intentions and drank 
and gambled like a madman. But the others 
— I heard about several of them — were brave 
men, good, simple soldiers, straight and silent 
in drill, like lions in a fight ; and several of 
them fell, for only if they were severely 
wounded or mentioned for distinction did they 
win their swords again. 

In another company there was one fellow 
who had married young, so the story went, and 
had worked up to be first lieutenant. Two 
girls and then a little boy were born to him, 
and he was just mad with joy over the event. 
His old, inherited fault, which he had bravely 
held in control, raised its head; he got very 


drunk and was mixed up in a street brawl. So 
he was dismissed, and now he was here in the 
Southwest. He sat alone a great deal, sunk 
into himself, never uttering a superfluous 
word. They said he never wrote to his wife 
and children. Every one, officers and men 
alike, showed him consideration. But once, 
when in Okahandja a one-year volunteer came 
up to him with a glass of wine in his hand, 
and said to him good-naturedly, "To your 
youngest ! " the unfortunate fellow, who 
seemed like one under a curse, gave him such 
a look that the volunteer stepped back with a 
pale face and an overturned glass. 

Here I finally got a letter from home which 
had sought me a long time. They all wrote. 
Father wrote about the business ; mother had 
talked to Dr. Bartels about how I could best 
protect myself against typhoid ; the small sis- 
ters wrote about their new Sunday clothes. As 
I read their letters, I nursed the thought that 
I alone was grown up and that I had three 
such little sisters. It had never occurred to me 
till now. While I was still pondering over it, 


I looked up and saw by chance that a scout- 
ing party were coming home, covered with 
dust, their faces and hands lacerated with 
thorns. They were riding weary, wounded 
horses, and by their side they led two black 
prisoners tied with a rope. Then I realized 
where I was; I cast my day-dreams into a 
corner and got up to look after my horse. 



As I had been longer in the country than the 
others, I received, on the fifth day after my 
arrival, a commission from headquarters to 
carry, with three men, a letter of instruction 
to the westerly division, which, as it was the 
last to arrive from Germany, was still some- 
what behind in the march. 

I arranged it so that the Mecklenburger 
got a better horse, and saw to it myself that 
the saddles were in good condition and that the 
necessary provisions and eight pounds of oats 
were in every saddle-bag. Then we rode out 
toward the west in the clear night. The first 
lieutenant had talked it all over with me ex- 
plicitly, — the water-place, the trail, and the 
direction I was to take according to the cross 
which was clear in the heavens. I was to ride 
south as far as possible and then northwest, to 


see how far to the south the enemy was sit- 
uated ; but after a ride of about forty miles I 
was to turn back whether I had accomplished 
anything or not. 

We rode briskly, first trotting the horses 
fifteen minutes and then walking them five. 
A blond boy, son of a Berlin cab-driver, rode 
ahead, then I myself and a young Alsatian, and 
behind us the man from Mecklenburg. It was 
a cold, clear, very bright night, not moonlight, 
but many stars shone brilliantly over the whole 

The first three hours passed without any 
special occurrence. The Berliner and I kept 
sharp watch in front and to the side. The Al- 
satian near me took strange positions in his 
saddle from time to time and confessed to me 
in a low voice that he had galled himself 
badly but had been very anxious to take the 
ride with us. The Mecklenburger trotted faith- 
fully along in the sand behind us. It was so 
bright that I could see the dust thrown high 
by the horses' hoofs. Between the dull thuds 
of the hoofs on the sand sounded from a dis- 


tance out of the bush the long, wailing howl 
of a jackal or the sharp laugh of a hyena, 
which startled me every time it suddenly oc- 
curred. Sometimes a horse would stumble and 
his rider would pull him up again, swearing 
under his breath. Now and then a hoof would 
strike a stone so that it rang out sharply. To 
the northwest a bright glow of fire could be 
seen above the bush behind tall, distant trees. 
The Berliner maintained that he could smell 
a grass fire. The moon rose, and its clear, 
mild light lay soft and still, far over the bush. 
Somewhere about midnight, as we were 
trotting up a slowly ascending wagon trail, 
the Berliner raised his hand and pointed to 
the right in front of us across a clearing. Not 
five hundred yards from us, low on the ground, 
were glowing several little covered fires, like 
cats' eyes in the dark among the bushes. As 
our horses snorted loudly, which they often 
did in the chilly night air, — and the night 
was bitter cold, — we dismounted quietly and 
led them awhile, spying in the mean time 
toward the fires on the right. We came soon 


to a place where the long grass was trodden 
down on both sides of the road. Getting down 
on my knees and creeping for a little way, I 
sa w tracks of innumerable children's feet, and 
among them those of full-grown feet. Great 
troops of children, led by their mothers, had 
passed over the road here to the northwest. 
I stood up and, going to a low tree by the 
road, climbed up a few yards in my heavy 
boots. Thence I could see a broad moonlit 
slope, rising not a hundred yards distant, and 
on it hundreds of rough huts constructed ol 
branches, from the low entrances of which the 
fire-light shone out; and I heard children's 
crying and the yelping of a dog. Thousands 
of women and children were lying there under 
roofs of leaves around the dying fires. And 
away back of those, on the ever-broadening 
slope up to the foot of the mountains which 
reared their heights toward the blue, starry 
sky, stood more huts, like dark and indistinct 
lumps. The barking of dogs and lowing* of 
cattle reached my ears. I gazed at the great 
night-scene with sharp, spying eyes, and I ob- 


served minutely the site of the camp at the 
base of the mountains. Still, the thought went 
through my head : " There lies a people, with 
all its children and all its possessions, hard 
pressed on all sides by the horrible, deadly 
lead, and condemned to death/' and it sent 
cold shudders down my back. 

We advanced cautiously, first on foot and 
then mounted. At six o'clock in the breaking 
morning light we came to a place with high, 
crisp grass, which the horses liked so much 
that we loosened their saddles and let them 
graze for an hour, while we stood by, the 
snaffles in our hands. At the right of the 
direction in which we were traveling rose 
steep in mighty bulk and strength like a ram- 
part the extended mountain, in front of which . 
the hostile people were encamped ; the morn- 
ing sun shone warm and bright on the forests 
lying on its ridge, and was driving away the 
mist which still hung on the corners of the 
woods. When we mounted again I noticed 
how stiff and tired our horses were, especially 
the horse of the Mecklenburger. 


As we saw nothing more of the enemy, and 
as no tracks, except at most those of a single 
traveler, were visible on the road, I believed 
that we had the position of the enemy behind 
us. The Berliner thought so, too. So we rode 
on for four hours, in continually increasing 
heat, and came then upon three deep water-holes 
in the limy soil, beside a tall tree. The Ber- 
liner threw in a stone and heard by the splash 
that there was water at the bottom. I talked 
it over with him and we decided we would have 
a proper noon rest here on the horses' ac- 
count, for they were about at the end of their 
strength. We unsaddled, bound the snaffles 
together with the fodder bags on them, and let 
the Berliner go down and fetch up a little bad 
but cool water for the horses. We didn't 
drink this water ourselves, but took the last of 
what we had in our water-sacks and filled 
them up with the bad water. Then we went to 
a tall tree to eat. I know still that the thought 
went through my head that we ought to stay 
in the burning sun because the tree stood too 
near the bush; but I allowed the others the 


cool shade and I did n't want the fellow from 
Berlin, who was rather conceited, secretly to 
think me cowardly ; and I depended, too, on 
his alertness, for he was to hold the first watch. 
Meanwhile I undertook to watch the horses. I 
relate all this so minutely because I always 
nursed the idea that I neglected something. 

When I had stood for probably two hours 
with the grazing horses, and was just going 
to stoop and kill a great, stinging fly that had 
lighted between the forelegs of my horse so 
that he was stamping violently, I heard from 
the clearing a short, frightful outcry, which 
seemed immediately to lay a hard pressure 
on my brain. Starting up, I saw that twenty 
or thirty of the enemy, armed with guns and 
clubs, were pressing round my comrades, who 
remained lying under the shots and blows. 
The Berliner, still half reclining, managed to 
shoot ; but at the same moment that he held 
his gun to his cheek, he received such a fear- 
ful blow with a club that he sank back. At 
that moment, too, came shots directed at me 
from the left across the clearing. Loud shouts 


and abusive words filled the air. Leaping and 
creeping they came at me through the tall, 
waving grass. Then I sprang, with the snaffle 
still in my hand, upon the nearest unsaddled 
horse, got the tired beast into a gallop, and 
escaped along the bush. 

I do not know much about the next hours. 
I only know that my head was horribly heavy 
and dull 9 as though my hat was full of lead, 
and that I held it strangely ducked down be- 
tween my shoulders, keeping my eyes half 
closed and feeling all the time the terrible 
blows I had seen. I rode along probably 
three hours in a heavy stupor, brooding in a 
confused, half -crazy state. How and when I 
put the snaffle on my horse I do not know. It 
was that wretched animal which the Mecklen- 
burger had ridden. 

When I became a little clearer in my mind 
I bethought me of where I was riding, and I 
did n't know. I looked at the sun, but it was 
directly over me. Then I directed my course 
into the light wind which had blown up from 
the sea the night before, and rode toward 


that. I rode straight ahead all the time, but 
did n't come across a track or meet a human 

I passed cleared places and through thick 
bush, which met over my head. My coat was 
in rags from the thorns, and my face and 
hands were bleeding. In order to spare my 
horse, I dismounted from time to time and 
led him, for he was overtired and suffering 
from thirst. Once when I had mounted again 
and was riding across a clearing, he stumbled 
and fell on his knees, and after resting awhile 
in that posture he fell over with a groan. I 
left him and went along on foot. 

I took out my knife and bound it with a 
scrap of rope to my left wrist so as to have it 
ready when I could no longer use my gun. I 
preferred to take my own life rather than to 
fall alive into the hands of the enemy. When 
the knife was firmly fastened, I ventured to 
shoot three times, and listened for an answer ; 
but none came. The sun was beginning to 
descend, and I saw now where the west was ; 
but that did n't help me much, for J had no 


idea in what direction I had ridden the first 
few hours after the attack. My tongue lay 
heavy and thick in my mouth, my throat was 
dry down into my chest, and my thoughts 
were dull. I thought I must die here so miser- 
ably and alone! How gladly had I lain instead 
with my dear friends under that tree in the 
far east ! I tortured myself with thought of 
home, and in imagination gave each one my 
hand and said I was now about to depart this 
life and they must n't grieve so very much, — 
life was n't worth much any way; and I went 
to the first lieutenant and said he had trusted 
me in vain. I wasn't a qlear-headed, calm 
fellow, but from childhood had been a dreamer. 
I wanted to speak a word to hear my voice, 
but I could not. 

I went on, however, in my heavy boots, 
through sand and high, sparse, hard grass, 
climbed two or three times into trees or onto 
an ant-heap. Once I was startled by a great, 
heavy beast like an ox, only with two long 
horns standing straight up like a stag's horns. 
I didn't find out what sort of animal this 



was, for I never talked to any one about those 
hours. Once in a while a gigantic dead tree 
would loom up before me. In the branches of 
one such hung a dark, thickly interwoven mass 
as large and of the same shape as the body 
of an ox. In this lived numberless little gray 
birds. A thick black snake writhed slowly 
out of the nests and turned its head, hissing, 
this way and that, as if blinded by the sun- 
light. I ran on in a fright. Once I clambered 
up a rock that rose suddenly ten yards high 
out of the bush. I saw nothing, however, ex- 
cept smoke or sunlit dust in several places in 
the distance. Far ^nd wide around me lay the 
silent bush. 

Toward evening I came upon an indistinct, 
long-unused wagon trail. I rested not far from 
this, hidden in the bush, — for I thought some 
one might come along the road, — and I fell 
asleep. When I woke because I was so cold, it 
was dark. It was a clear, starry night like the 
preceding one. I stood up and looked about 
me in great distress and wished that I were 


Suddenly, while I was standing there, a 
vivid, sharp flash of light came over the bush 
diagonally before me. Again ! and now again ! 
A signal station ; but how far off ? Probably 
many, many miles. How bright it shone ! There 
were comrades ! There was salvation ! It was 
madness to run to it ; but I noticed the direc- 
tion in the sky and ran as fast as I could. 

I ran a good two hours or more, tearing my 
clothes and face and hands on the terribly long, 
hard thorns. Then I perceived that I was get- 
ting nearer, for the light was plainly beginning 
to flash higher above the bushes, but was too 
near to be coming down from a high, distant 
mountain. I shouted as loud as I could and 
ran on once more, but I soon gave that up. 
After running probably half an hour, I began 
shouting again, so that they should not shoot 
at me. 

They were beginning to answer, " Come this 
way ! Who are you? Come on! " I came out of 
the bushes and ran across the clearing to them 
where they were standing at the foot of jagged 
rocks, and told them who I was and what had 


happened to me. "Poor devil!" they said. 
" We can be of very little help. We are sitting 
here ourselves in the worst case possible. Our 
under officer, who understands giving the sig- 
nals, went yesterday to the water-hole and did 
n't come back ; and the corporal, who is now 
working the lamp, is sick. We have had no 
relief from duty for fourteen days ; no sleep, 
no bread, only a little bit of rice, some canned 
meat, and water ; and we are waiting for the 
blacks to come and finish us." Two of the 
men had remained indifferent, lying wrapped 
in their cloaks. "They are sick," said the 

I did n't hear what they were saying j I 
heard only the word water and begged for 
some. They gave me two covers full out of a 
water-sack, but it was vile tasting and I did n't 
take the third coverful. Meanwhile the cor- 
poral kept calling down from above to know 
who was there, and if relief had come. I ob- 
served from his speech that he was a Bavarian. 
The others said: "Go up and talk to him and 
cheer him up. He has n't slept for two nights." 


I climbed laboriously up the rocks and 
reached him. He was standing with his cloak 
on, taking the blinder off the lamp in correct 
time so that the flashes glared harshly out into 
the night. The light flickered in the icy-cold 
night wind. His whole body was shivering. 
Now he stopped manipulating the lamp and 
looked sharply over the dark bush toward a 
light that flashed out on the distant horizon, 
and he wrote rapidly on a block of paper what 
he saw. He asked me in broken sentences 
where I had come from and where I was going 
and said : " We are dirty and hungry and thirsty 
and sick, and two of us are already done for, 
but no one comes to relieve us." I asked him : 
"Have you connections with the new division?" 
He replied: " Just now in the last hour"; and 
he smiled mournfully and added : " I am going 
mad here. Yesterday night I signaled mere 
foolishness over and over: ' So we live, so we 
live/ and such things ; but they did n't under- 
stand the nonsense." He let the block fall, 
crouched down and shook himself. He seemed 
to think that I was to relieve him. 


I wanted to brighten him up, so I questioned 
him about the lights which flashed here and 
there in the darkness. He pulled himself to- 
gether and pointed out to me with a nervous, 
hasty hand the light of each division. These 
lay in a half-circle around the enemy, ready 
to crush them on the morrow against the 
broad wall of the mountain in front of which 
they were encamped. While he was still show* 
ing me, a new light flashed down from the 
mountain. Vivid and bold, it suddenly ap- 
peared there. " See ! " he cried, " they have 
climbed up on the mountain. Now they are 
standing up there over the heads of the enemy, 
seeing everything and reporting what they 
see." I gazed for a long time at the flaring 
light, and in spite of my own plight I thought 
of the ten or twenty comrades sitting up here 
on these unfriendly heights expecting every 
moment to be overwhelmed. And I looked 
at the broad, black stretch of land that lay 
dark among all the lights. There in the bush 
lay the hostile people. With what thoughts 
must they and their children see the light? 


The Bavarian had again reached out to the 
lamp and wanted to pass on what he had re- 
ceived. He was talking softly to himself ; then 
he sank down in a heap and again pulled him- 
self up stiff. Just then we heard from out the 
bush the snorting of horses, and immediately 
after the sharp voice of an officer. I climbed 
hastily down and stood by, and heard him ask- 
ing what the matter was here that such crazy 
messages had come. At that I stepped forward 
and explained that I was Corporal Moor; I told 
whence I had come and said that the Bavarian 
up there was sick and no longer quite in his 
right mind, and that I had lost comrades and 
horse and should like to go back to my division 

He sent a man up the hill and said it was n't 
necessary for me to take the dangerous ride 
again at once, for they now had signal con- 
nection once more with headquarters. But I 
said : " I have lost my comrades and I must 
report how it happened." 

He probably had sympathy for me, for he 
said : " We have an extra nag among us. He is 


not beautiful, but if you want to go on, you 
shall have him." He went with me himself to 
the horse, and I believe he gave me a better 
one than he intended at first ; for I heard him 
say in a low voice to his subordinate : " He has 
seven hours to ride and he is riding alone." 

He looked after the saddle and bridle him- 
self, and asked if I belonged regularly to the 
cavalry. Pulling at the girth, he said: "After 
three hours you must tighten the girth," and 
showed me the provisions for me and the horse 
in the saddle-bag. Then he called up to the 
hill: "Where are the headquarters?" They 
pointed them out, and he showed me the 
direction again by the Cross, which was clear 
in the sky, and instructed me to ride straight 
ahead till I came to the big path. With that 
he let me go. 

On this ride, which lasted ten hours, I had 
no sort of accident. Dead tired I reached the 
road which my division were following, and, 
indeed, I drank and watered my horse at the 
place they had left two days before. I then 
took the same road they had taken. Many dead 


and dying animals lay along the road. At the 
next water-place I came upon the division rest- 
ing. I announced myself, reported, and then 
went to my mess company, and sitting down 
on the ground slept like a dead man for six 
hours. They told me afterwards that they had 
besieged me with questions and I had looked 
at them without saying a word and had fallen 
back and slept. 

That evening the camp was full of life. 
Every one was busy. One was looking after 
his gun ; another was carefully filling his car- 
tridge-belt ; a third was caring for his horse ; 
a fourth and a fifth were lying on the ground, 
writing home. When we lay down to sleep 
around our cooking-hole, the volunteer, who 
was ten years older than we, said : " Well, boys, 
say ' Our Father ' once more. Who knows if 
you '11 be able to to-morrow night?" 

No fire was lighted that night. 



Before midnight we advanced toward the 
enemy. It was said that our division would 
come upon them about morning. The Witt- 
boys rode on ahead as spies. Then came our 
company. One part was detached to ride at 
the side of the road in the bush ; the other 
part was to keep on riding in the road. I was 
in the third platoon. Behind me in compact 
array came the artillery. We marched as quietly 
as possible, but still there were all sortsof noises: 
snorting of horses, jolting of wheels, an impa- 
tient, angry shout, or a blow with a whip. I 
was very cold in the saddle, and, in order not 
to have stiff fingers later, when I had to shoot, 
I laid the reins over my cartridge-belt and put 
my hands in my pockets. 

At last morning broke, and delicate, rosy 
stripes of light soon shot up toward the zenith. 


The colors grew rapidly deeper, brighter, and 
stronger. The red was glorious in its fullness 
and the blue beautiful in its purity. The light 
mounted and extended itself, ascending like a 
new world a thousand times more beautiful 
than the old one. Then came the sun, big and 
clear, looking like a great, placid, wide-open 
eye. Although like a good soldier I had all 
my thoughts fixed on what was before me, on 
the enemy, and the bad hours I should prob- 
ably meet with, yet I saw the splendor of the 

Near me rode a fellow from Hamburg, a 
fresh, quiet boy. He said once to me : " You 
see, one has to have experienced something, 
or how shall one become a serious, capable 
man ? That *s why I came here." He was to 
enter his father's business later. He was riding 
just as I was, his reins over his cartridge-belt 
and his hands in his pockets; he was frowning 
this morning, and kept a sharp lookout before 
him. Diagonally behind me rode the former 

About this time of day, according to the pre- 


dictions of our scouts, we ought to reach the 
enemy, but they were not to be seen. Then I 
thought, as did many others, that again there 
would be no fighting, and I was annoyed. 
Shortly after this, however, we heard the thun- 
der of cannon coming from our right. 

It got to be eight o'clock, and nine. The 
bush was so dense that the parties sent into 
it could not advance. They came out and 
marched together along the road. The sun was 
steadily mounting; it was getting to be a hot 
day. It began to be warm riding, and the horses 
were growing tired. A little thin lieutenant 
with a drawn face and sharp eyes rode up 
alongside of me and said, in a suppressed voice : 
" We are n't a mile and a half from the water- 
holes." Several times in the last few days he 
had made dangerous excursions into this re- 
gion, and he knew every bush. 

Then the first shot fell ahead. With a quick 
swing we were out of our saddles and had 
thrown the reins over our horses' necks. Those 
who were to hold the horses seized them. Our 
company was only ninety strong, and, as we 


left ten with the horses, only eighty men went 
into the thick bush. The enemy were firing 
vigorously and letting out short, wild cries. I 
saw one of our men wounded. He stooped and 
examined a wound in his leg. Still, I saw no- 
thing of the enemy. Then just for a second I 
sa w a piece of an arm in a grayish brown cord 
coat, and I shot at it. Then I lay down to spy 
out another target. Lively firing was being 
exchanged. When one of us thought he had 
hit his mark, he would announce it with a loud 
voice : "That one won't get up again! I got 
him in the middle of the breast! " The third 
man at my right, who was lying by a bush in 
front of me, twitched convulsively. A derisive 
voice on the other side shouted : " Had enough, 
Dutchman?" My comrade said, in a quiet 
voice: " I have a bullet in my shoulder," and 
he crawled back on all fours. 

I could hear through all our own shooting 
that we were getting fired upon from the left. 
This fire now became heavier. They were 
coming nearer. In close ranks they came, 
creeping and shouting and screaming. Two of 


my neighbors were not shouting any more. 
We crawled back once or twice our length. 
The enemy shouted : " Look out, Dutchman, 
look out ! " and laughed wildly. Others shouted : 
" Hurrah ! hurrah ! " The bush was swarming 
with men. I thought they would now break 
loose upon us in a wild storm and that it would 
be all up with us. On account of our wounded 
men I was fearfully anxious lest we should 
have to retreat. I was firmly resolved if the 
command should come, to shout loudly : " Take 
along the wounded ! " But when I had just 
decided on this plan, a subordinate officer 
came up with several men and cheered us on 
with the words, " Hold your position t I am 
sending aid ! " Soon afterwards I heard some- 
thing slipping and grating behind me, and a 
quiet, soft voice said : " Move a little to the 
side." The nozzle of a machine gun was 
pushed forward near my face, and immediately 
began to crackle away. The grape shot hissed 
furiously into the bushes rattling and whizz- 
ing. How good it sounded ! How surely and 
quietly I shot! "Did I hit? Did you see? 


Shoot, man, there ! there! " Cannon, too, upon 
a slope behind us were now thundering over 
our heads. Then it grew a little more quiet on 
the other side, and the command of " Forward, 
double quick ! " reached us. We sprang up 
and plunged forward, but a horrible volley of 
grape shot was poured against us and threw 
us back again. 

In front of me an under officer had got a 
ball in the body, and blood was streaming from 
the wound. He was crouching and trying to 
stem the flow of blood with a handkerchief, 
and was calling for help. He was a light-corn- 
plexioned, fine-looking man. Just then the 
former officer, the one who was under the 
official ban, came up from the side, seized the 
wounded man by the shoulders, and dragged 
him back, while balls were falling around him 
and the barrel of his gun was hit so that it 
flew rattling to one side. He then quietly lay 
down in his place again. On the other side, in 
the bush, they were shouting in wild zeal and 
shrieking for very rage. 

We did not advance. I don't know how 


long we lay there firing. It was probably 
hours. I wondered once why no officer was to 
be seen with us, and I forgot it again. Sweat 
ran like water over my entire body. Not 
merely my tongue, but my throat, my whole 
body, cried out for a swallow of cool water. 
At one side a hospital aid was trying to bind 
a rubber bandage around the bleeding leg of 
a wounded man who begged him in South 
German dialect : " Take me back a little, can 
you?" Then the aid dragged him back 

The fire from the other side was getting 
weaker. A voice commanded us : " Fire more 
slowly." From the other side we heard it 
jeeringly mimicked : " Fire more slowly." A 
wounded man cried aloud for water. 

We lay and waited, our guns pointed. Word 
passed from mouth to mouth : " The captain 
is dead ; the first lieutenant, too — all the of- 
ficers — and almost all the under officers." 
Propping my gun in position, I took my field 
flask with my left hand and swallowed the 
little draught I had saved up for the greatest 


emergency. As I set the flask aside, I thought 
that perhaps it would be my last drink, and I 
thought of my parents. I believed that the 
enemy would get breath and then make an- 
other assault. 

But that did not happen. A lieutenant who 
belonged to the staff came stooping along our 
ranks. When he was behind me, he knelt there, 
touched my boot lightly, and said ; " Go to 
the general and report that according to my 
reckoning we are about half a mile distant 
from the last water-holes." 

I got cautiously up on my knees, and then 
ducking down ran back to the road. Near an 
ant-hill, which was certainly three yards high, 
a surgeon and a hospital aid were endeavoring 
to save a man from bleeding to death ; but I 
believe they came too late, for he lay like dead 
on his dark red blanket. Then I saw the bal- 
loon not far in front of me and I ran across 
the clearing to it. 

The long rows of oxen, standing in har- 
ness in front of their wagons, raised their 
open mouths and bellowed hoarsely, for they 


scented the water-holes and panted for water. 
The soldiers at the wagons and horses called 
to me with dry voices : " Get ahead, you fel- 
lows up forward ! Are we coming to water 
soon? Are we going on?" They looked at 
me with deep, dry eyes. Those who held the 
horses had a great deal of trouble with the 
thirsty creatures, which were standing crowded 
together, swarmed over and tortured by in- 
sects. The sun scorched down. A thick, hor- 
ribly dry, dust-filled air lay over the whole 

The surgeons in white cloaks stood in front 
of the hospital wagon around a table on which 
some one was lying. I wondered how many 
were lying in the shade of the wagon ; five or 
six of them were dead, among them our cap- 
tain. A wounded officer, I think it was a lieu- 
tenant, was giving water with his well hand 
to the severely wounded ; his other arm was 
bleeding badly. 

At the general's wagon a man was stand- 
ing by the heliograph. The general was near 
by with officers and orderlies around him, all 


of them on foot. I reported and heard some 
one say : " The animals can't hold out any 
longer and the men are simply dying of thirst." 
The next moment, just as I had turned to run 
to the front, there came from behind from two 
or three directions wild shouting and volleys 
from the bush. 

The outposts, who were lying and kneeling 
on the ground all around, moved in immedi- 
ately. The voice of an officer rang out sharp 
and clear: "Disperse and charge in knots." 
I ran, and saw as I ran that a hailstorm of 
bullets was riddling the hospital wagon, that 
the doctors were seizing their guns, and that 
one of them was wounded. I even heard one 
say : " We 'U take off our white cloaks, though." 
Then I lay down by a bush and shot at the 
enemy, who with wild shouts continued their on- 
set through the bushes. Secretaries, orderlies, 
drivers, guard, and officers all rushed forward, 
lay down near one another, and protected their 
skins. The artillery turned while firing and 
shot away over us. Excited by my run and 
the sudden attack, I began a violent, rapid fire. 


A voice near me said : " Shoot more calmly." 
I did fire more calmly, thinking, " Who said 
that?" and as I seized my cartridge-belt and 
looked to the side, there lay the general two 
men from me, shooting coolly as becomes an 
old soldier. The enemy were pressing on in 
close ranks through the bush, shouting and 
firing. But we lay quietly and shot well. Then 
it got more quiet. The officers stood up and 
returned to the centre of the camp again. Im- 
mediately after that came the order that the 
whole camp should advance two hundred 
yards. In running by I saw them lifting the 
dead and wounded into wagons. Then I ran 
forward again to my place in the line of de- 

Now as I lay there I felt how very parched 
I was. Begging and complaining and teasing 
for water went through the ranks. From be- 
hind we heard the hoarse lowing of the thirsty 
oxen. I believe that at this time, four in the 
afternoon, there was not a drop of water in 
the whole camp except for the wounded. 

Then everything Was moved to the front, — 


soldiers, artillery , and machine guns. A terrific 
fire rattled against the enemy, who were grow* 
ing weary. Then word passed from man to 
man : " We are going to charge." Now the 
battle-cry told. I shall never forget it. With 
fierce yells, with distorted faces, with dry and 
burning eyes, we sprang to our feet and hurled 
ourselves forward. The enemy leaped, fired, 
and dispersed with loud outcries. We ran with- 
out interference, shouting, cursing, and shoot- 
ing, to the good-sized clearing where the 
ardently desired water-holes were, and across 
it to the further edge, where the bush began 

The entire camp — the heavy wagons with 
their long teams of oxen; the hundreds of 
horses; the hospital wagons with the surgeons, 
the dead and the wounded ; the headquarters, 
everything — followed in a rush and encamped 
in the clearing. But we lay around it at the 
edge of the bush to keep back the enemy, who 
now here and now there would break through 
the thick bushes in wild, loudly shouting par- 


ties. Behind us our men were now climbing 
down with army kettles into the water-holes, 
which were ten yards deep, and were filling 
buckets let down on reins and were beginning 
to water man and beast. When about ten ani- 
mals had had a little, the hole was empty. 
There were about ten or twelve holes at this 

The sun went down. Some of us slipped 
out, cut brush with our side-arms, and made 
a stockade in front of us. The artillerymen 
set up the cannon and machine guns behind 
us and knelt near them. Some of the soldiers 
were detailed to creep from man to man and 
give each a little water. In the camp further 
back of us, the restlessly crowding animals 
were being watered in the dark. By the hos- 
pital wagons n ureas were going about, lanterns 
in their hands, bending over each patient. 
Meanwhile the enemy kept up their firing, 
which continually flashed out of the dark bush 
all around the camp. Not until about mid- 
night did it become more quiet. We passed a 


little zwieback from hand to hand. Then com- 
plete darkness settled upon us and the shooting 
at last ceased. 

What plan had the enemy in mind ? Here 
we lay in the dark night, four hundred men, 
worn out, and half dead with thirst; and in 
front of us and all around us a savage, furious 
people numbering sixty thousand. We knew 
and heard nothing of the other German divi- 
sions. Perhaps they had been slaughtered and 
the sixty thousand were now collecting them- 
selves to fall upon us. Through the quiet 
night we heard in the distance the lowing of 
enormous herds of thirsty cattle and a dull 
confused sound like the movement of a whole 
people. To the east there was a gigantic glow 
of fire. I lay stretched at full length with my 
gun ready, and cheered my utterly exhausted 
comrades to keep awake. 

Thus morning gradually came on. Then 
some scouts went out cautiously and we learned 
to our great amazement that the enemy had 
withdrawn, and indeed in wild flight. Wa 
should have liked to follow them up, but we 


had no news yet from the other divisions. 
Moreover, both men and beasts had reached 
the limit of their strength. So we rested on 
that day, ate a little poor food, and cleansed 
and repaired our guns and other equipment ; 
for we looked like people who had battered 
and bruised and soiled themselves in an attack 
of frenzy. The madness still showed in our 
frowning brows and in our eyes. Our dead 
lay in the midst of us in the shade of a tree. 

We had a great deal of trouble to keep our 
animals from dying. We could not give them 
anywhere near enough water to satisfy them, 
and we could not give them any fodder at all, 
because the entire region had been eaten as 
bare by the enemy's cattle as if rats and 
mice had gnawed it clean. The men and the 
animals had even grubbed into the earth in 
search of roots. It was a miserable day. The 
sun glared down, and an odor of old manure 
filled the whole land to suffocation. 

At noon there came at last some news from 
the other divisions. Two reported that they 
had beaten the enemy, the third that it had 


saved itself with great difficulty and distress. 
The enemy had fled to the east with their 
whole enormous mass, — women, children, and 

Toward evening we buried our dead under 
the tree. 



The next morning we ventured to pursue the 
enemy. We left our unmounted men with the 
sick and wounded in camp and set out towards 
the east, two hundred horsemen in number. 
But our horses were weak, half-starved, or 
sick, and the region into which we were ad- 
vancing was a waterless land and little ex* 
plored. The ground was trodden down into a 
floor for a width of about a hundred yards ; 
for in such a broad, thickly crowded horde had 
the enemy and their herds of cattle stormed 
along. In the path of their flight lay blan- 
kets, skins, ostrich feathers, household utensils, 
women's ornaments, cattle, and men dead and 
dying and staring blankly. A shocking smell 
of old manure and of decaying bodies filled 
the hot, still air oppressively. 

The further we went in the burning sun, 


the more disheartening became our journey. 
How deeply the wild, proud, sorrowful people 
had humbled themselves in the terror of death ! 
Wherever I turned my eyes lay their goods in 
quantities : oxen and horses, goats and dogs, 
blankets and skins. And there lay the wounded 
and the old, women and children. A number of 
babies lay helplessly languishing by mothers 
whose breasts hung down long and flabby. 
Others were lying alone, still living, with eyes 
and noses full of flies. Somebody sent out our 
black drivers and I think they helped them to 
die. All this life lay scattered there, both man 
And beast, broken in the knees, helpless, still 
in agony or already motionless; it looked as 
if it had all been thrown down out of the air. 
At noon we halted by water-holes which 
were filled to the very brim with corpses. We 
pulled them out by means of the ox-teams 
from the fieldpieces, but there was only a little 
stinking, bloody water in the depths. We tried 
to dig deeper, but no water came. There was 
no pasturage, either. The sun blazed down so 
hot on the sand that we could not even lie 


down. On our thirsting, starving horses, we 
thirsting and starving men rode on. At some 
distance crouched a crowd of old women who 
stared in apathy in front of them. Here and 
there were oxen, bellowing. In the last frenzy 
of despair man and beast will plunge madly into 
the bush, somewhere, anywhere to find water, 
and in the bush they will die of thirst. 

We rode on till evening. Then we expected 
to reach a dry river bed and find water near 
by. Herds of beeves, bellowing hoarsely and 
with wild, gleaming eyes, came towards us in 
a cloud of dust. That was a bad sign of the 
region into which we were riding. " Do you 
think you are wiser than the animals? Turn 
back, turn back ! " " No, we know better. At 
seven we shall reach the enemy, and water and 
pasture." We kept on. Our ranks became 
straggling. We rode each one of us as best he 
could. There was nothing to be seen of the 
enemy, but Wittboys who had ridden on ahead 
came back and reported that their camp was 
not far off. 

Toward evening, when I was ordered to ride 


in the bush with four men as a flank protec- 
tion, — for we were shot at now and then, — 
we chanced to see a Cape wagon behind some 
high bushes, and we heard human voices. Dis- 
mounting, we sneaked up and discovered six 
of the enemy sitting in animated conversation 
around a little camp-fire. I indicated, by signs, 
at which one of them each of us was to 
shoot. Four lay still immediately; one escaped; 
the sixth stood half erect, severely wounded. 
I sprang forward swinging my club ; he looked 
at me indifferently. I wiped my club clean in 
the sand and threw the weapon on its strap 
over my shoulder, but I did not like to touch 
it all that day. 

The ground was everywhere bare, yellowish 
brown and stony ; the sparse grass had been 
eaten, burned, or trodden down. Dead cattle 
lay about everywhere. The hoarse bellowing 
of dying oxen quavered horribly through the 
air. The bush got thinner, often opening into 
a great clearing. 

Entirely forsaken in the scorching sun lay a 
two-year-old child. When it caught sight of us, 


it sat up straight and stared at us. I got down 
from my horse, picked the child up and carried 
it back where there was a deserted fireplace 
near a bush. It found at once the remainder of 
a root or a bone, and began to eat. It did not 
cry ; it did not show fear, either ; it was entirely 
indifferent. I believe it had grown there in the 
bush without human help. 

The hot day was drawing to a close. Our 
horses were very tired. We had trouble to get 
the creatures up again when they stumbled. 
Some of us dismounted, and by evening many 
were leading their horses. Then the animals 
fell, and their riders threw the saddles into the 
wagons and continued on foot. It grew dark j 
still nothing was to be seen of the enemy. 
Then at last we reached the eagerly longed-for 
water-holes. There they were, filled to the very 
top with dead oxen. No water was there ; no 
trace of fodder. Then we bit our lips and stared 
ahead of us, for we knew now that we must go 
back and that many more horses would fall. 
We might be happy indeed if we brought all 
our men back to the camp alive. 


We stayed here three or four hours in the 
night. I tried to get a little water by forcing 
my way down between the dead cattle and oxen, 
and after an hour came back with half a kettle- 
f ul of the vile liquid. We made coffee with it, 
however, and drank it. The others in the mean 
time had got a great rough nest of weaver birds 
from a tree and had laid it before the horses ; 
we gathered old cow-dung, too, and cut branches 
from the bushes and offered them those after 
removing the thorns. I stayed an hour by my 
horse, rubbing him with my hand and being 
friendly with him. 

After midnight we started on our return 
journey. At first, when a horse fell the rider 
would take the saddle on his back and trudge 
in his heavy boots through the sand, but soon 
the saddles lay scattered all along. We others 
dismounted and led our horses ; it was a long, 
weary procession. Right under my feet a com- 
rade staggered and fell; four of us lifted him 
up, — he was heavy as lead. More horses were 
falling all the time. Soon a noble beast was 
left lying every half-mile. Now and then a 


shot cracked, but we paid no attention. The 
older carcasses were distended; a terrific atmo- 
sphere exhaled from the broad field of death. 
We set one foot before the other in silence. 
Our mouths were hot ; the suffocating, vile- 
smelling air passed down our throats like whips 
and spurs. One man in front of me began to 
talk wildly, saying he wanted to kill all the 
enemy and drink himself full of their blood. 
We put him on a horse and two men held him. 
I felt no hunger, — loathing drove away hun- 
ger, — but I was tortured by thirst, so that I 
longed to drink the blood which I saw in the 
veins of the fallen animals. 

Morning came and with it the burning sun. 
We came to water-holes, again full of dead 
cattle. Nevertheless, we threw ourselves down 
and tried to get water out of the bottom, and 
we filled a cover with the repulsive stuff and 
drank in turn. When my turn came and I was 
already raising the cover to my mouth, my 
head was pushed gently aside. As I looked 
around in amazement, my horse stuck his nose 
into the cover and drank. I forced myself to 


preserve my self-control and thought : " Do 
you want to drink death in spilt blood? Better 
die of thirst." And I let him have it and stood 
up, no longer having any hope of holding out 
till the evening of that terrible day. Our line 
got longer and longer. 

It is wonderful how much a human being 
can endure. I walked four hours more in the 
burning sun. I know little or nothing of those 
hours ; I have only a recollection of having 
passed through a flaming fire. My horse fell 
and lay there. 

Towards evening, when we were still five 
miles distant from the camp, I was ordered to 
mount another horse and try to see if I could 
reach there in order that they might send out 
fresh oxen to meet us, for our teams refused 
to go on. I climbed into the saddle and actually 
got the East Prussian horse into a slow, heavy 
trot. So I rode alone along the path of death. 

When I had ridden awhile, a thick, dark 
cloud, like a thunder-cloud, came up from the 
south. I rejoiced at the sight and watched 
greedily as it grew broader and broader and 


broader; I almost believed I could taste the 
rain already. Then it struck me that it hung 
very low and approached very rapidly, exactly 
as if it were flying. And now it was upon me. 
Whirring and humming, a numberless swarm 
of big grasshoppers buzzed thick about me. 
Their shining, silver wings, which were as long 
as my finger, glittered with marvelous beauty 
in the setting sun. They settled in countless 
numbers about me on the bush. I shook myself 
in horror of this wonderful, fearfully strange 
land, and passed through them. I reached 
camp and reported ; I drank, dropped down, 
and slept. 



During the four days that we still remained 
in this camp, we had the flesh of the oxen 
which had given out and rice for our three 
meals a day ; there was no other food. There 
was, to be sure, water enough for the time 
being ; but as the hordes of the enemy with 
their great herds of cattle had lived for weeks 
around these same water-holes, the water had 
become badly polluted. Thus it happened that 
in a few days every tenth man fell sick of 
dysentery. I kept fairly well, but once, when 
searching under a bush for a little grass for 
my half-starved horse, I got wounded by a 
thorn in my hand, which swelled up and looked 
bad for some days. Apparently the whole place 
was infected, — the water, the ground, the bush, 
and the air. 

Then came the news that the enemy, after 


overcoming and passing the great stretch of 
waterless country, where thousands of them 
had perished^ were situated far to the east on 
the further side of the sand field by some 
miserable water-holes. The general decided to 
follow them thither, to attack them and force 
them to go northward into thirst and death, 
so that the colony would be left in peace and 
quiet for all time. 

We now advanced into broad steppes to the 
east, marching, as was our usual method, with 
an immense baggage train of ox-teams, Cape 
wagons, carts, and drivers, which carried along 
all our means of supporting life in the desert. 
Of these steppes, where no white man before 
us had ever trod, little was known except that 
they were very poorly supplied with water. On 
the way a large supply of fresh horses reached 
us, so we were all mounted again. It was the 
fourth horse I had ridden, and the lieutenant, 
who had been on many and long reconnoitring 
expeditions, was mounting his sixth. We were 
four hundred men in our division. 

The sand was deep and the sun was scorch- 


ing. At night, lying on the ground, our heads 
pillowed on our hats or saddles, we got a 
little sleep. The stars were clear, and an icy 
wind blew. The food was monotonous and 
meagre. Many had drunk the seeds of typhoid 
fever in the infected water, and the disease 
now broke out. The sick men had to ride back 
all day on the floors of the hard, jolting wag- 
ons until they came to a field hospital, where 
they would lie for weeks on miserable grass 
beds without proper food to strengthen them, 
without drink to cool their fever, and without 
cleanliness. The further on we penetrated into 
the steppes, the more troublesome became the 
big flies which always come at this time of 
year, and which were so rapacious that we had 
to pick them out of our eyes and the corners 
of our mouths with our fingers. That they were 
always floating in our soup had long since 
ceased to bother us. In the second or third 
week the new horses began to get exhausted. 
Soon one, and then another, was lying by the 
way. The oxen, from long marches and poor 
fodder, were getting more and more flabby. 


Our clothes, boots, saddles, and harness were 
again torn and dirty. We looked as if we had 
rolled in the dust. 

When we had marched three weeks and had 
reached the region where the enemy were sup- 
posed to be, it appeared that they had gone 
still further east and 1 were stopping at the very 
last of the wretched water-holes. So we had to 
go still further. At night we would see here 
and there to the east of us the burning grass 
which they had set on fire, and the fires of the 
single tribes which had detached themselves 
from the main body and were trying to break 
through to the west, to their old home, in order 
to escape a cruel death from thirst. Scouting 
parties were sent out to prevent their getting 
through, so that they should not keep up an 
endless petty warfare with us in their native 

At last, in the fourth week, I again left the 
company. I rode with a party of twenty men, 
led by a lieutenant, out of the night camp to 
the north in order to get information about 
this region, of which there was no map, and 


more especially to find some good water. 
There were in the vicinity, to be sure, many 
water-holes; but two out of three would be 
found dried up and the third would contain 
miserably little water. 

We set out after midnight and rode till 
nine o'clock in the morning. Then we unsad- 
dled to rest. But we had not been lying long 
in the shadow of some bushes when we noticed 
an odor of something burning, which grew 
rapidly stronger, so that we thought it right, 
in spite of our indifference, to investigate 
the cause. Just then our outposts came run- 
ning up and said that the wind was driving 
a mighty grass fire toward us. Cursing the 
enemy, we got up and saddled in haste, for 
heavy smoke and fire which gleamed through 
it were coming toward us in a broad front. As 
our horses were getting restless and were rear- 
ing and plunging into one another, we walked 
as fast as we could, leading them without any 
concerted action toward a depression in the 
cleared ground. We had just reached it and 
were beginning to cut and tear up the grass 


for a little space, when the flames came up 
like a tribe of little glowing children who 
were dancing forward holding each other's 
hands. Here and there one would spring up 
higher than the rest and immediately duck 
down again. They roared as they crept along, 
blowing a dry, hot breath before them which 
they drove into our mouths and eyes. Some 
of us had poured some of the cold coffee which 
we had in our water-sacks on our handker- 
chiefs, others crouched down behind their 
horses, and others pressed their faces against 
the moist water-sacks. Then there was a mo- 
ment of great confusion: the horses reared 
wildly; our breath stopped; a comrade stum- 
bled and was pulled up again — then it was 
past. We looked like chimney-sweeps; and 
we cursed and shook our heads and looked at 
one another; and at last we had to laugh over 
the adventure. But I especially laughed to 
myself at the thought of that rascal from 
Holstein who had sometimes, as he said, been 
shoved by his mother into the oven. I would 
not have begrudged him this adventure. 


In the evening we reached some dried-up 
water-holes, which we dug somewhat deeper 
and by which we slept that night, laying our 
saddles in a circle and each man lying behind 
his own. The horses were enclosed in a pretty 
good grazing-place by thorn branches which 
had been hastily cut and gathered together. 
The lieutenant and the officer who had lost his 
commission took turns watching in the circle 
of sleeping soldiers. Two guards, who were 
relieved every hour, walked outside the circle, 
and one man stood with the horses. 

When it came my turn to watch and I went 
outside, the night was so bitter cold that I 
made all sorts of motions to keep a little 
warmth in my body. I even climbed twice on 
a low, tumble-down anthill and watched the 
fires which here and there in the distance 
shone through the darkness. While I was thus 
gazing, however, I was struck by the fact that 
one fire was burning not far from us in the 
thick bush. I remembered it when I was re- 
lieved, and told the lieutenant, who was sitting 
on the ground by our burned-out fire. 


Before dawn we got up, discovered the exact 
place in the bush, and stealthily surrounded it. 
Five men and eight or ten women and children, 
all in rags, were squatting benumbed about 
their dismal little fire. Telling them with 
threats not to move, we looked through the 
bundles which were lying near them and found 
two guns and some underclothing, probably 
stolen from our dead. One of the men was 
wearing a German tunic which bore the name 
of one of our officers who had been killed. 
We then led the men away to one side and 
shot them. The women and children, who 
looked pitiably starved, we hunted into the 

When we got back to the place where we 
had spent the night, so much water had trickled 
into the holes which we had deepened that we 
could give a whole cook-pan full to every 
horse and put a little in our water-sacks be- 
sides. The water was not so bad as regards 
taste, but, as was almost everywhere the case 
in that sandy soil, it contained a consider- 
able proportion of Glaubersaltz and had, there- 


fore, what the lieutenant called a decidedly 
laxative effect. 

All that day, to the great vexation of the 
lieutenant, we found no good water-place, but 
we continually rejoiced to be out of the com- 
pany and traveling alone through the broad, 
boundless country. While we were riding, the 
lieutenant described to us his plan of hunting 
up our nearest little post, which had already 
been camping somewhere in the vicinity for 
several weeks in order to prevent the return of 
the hostile tribes to their homes. At this post 
he was going to make inquiries. But towards 
evening, before, according to our information, 
we could possibly have arrived at that post, 
the bushes began to be more luxuriant and the 
grass softer; some tall trees rose from the 
bush and some fowl flew up. In short, we no- 
ticed that we were coming to water, and, feel- 
ing very happy and proud at our cleverness in 
discovery, we put our horses into a trot. And, 
behold, there at the side of a clearing was 
truly a little pond, or rather puddle, of clear 
water. We came up, dismounted, and some were 


already kneeling and drinking and the horses 
were standing knee-deep in the water near us 
when just then a strange soldier came run- 
ning towards us down a hill, shouting : " For 
Heaven's sake, don't drink that water ! Don't 
drink! There's typhoid fever in it!" We 
stopped and shrugged our shoulders. Some of 
the men were serious, some laughed indiffer- 
ently. Above, on the slope, was a newly estab- 
lished army hospital which we had not known 
of. We spent the night near by, apart from 
the typhoid patients and the miserable pond, 
however. But with this water, as appeared 
after some weeks, six of us had drunk in 
typhoid fever and two of us death. 

The next morning we made a very early 
start, and at about ten o'clock found the post 
we were in search of. Fifteen soldiers were 
living in a cleared space, in a little camp which 
they had fortified with a barricade of thorn- 
bush. Inside this barricade they had built two 
huts of branches and had made a big cooking- 
hole. Outside, at some distance, were their 
horses, and cattle, namely, four cows, which 


they had seized and from which they got 
milk. To do the milking and washing and 
to gather wood they had captured an oldish 

The lieutenant in command of the post was 
a thickset man with reddish hair, on account 
of which and because he was so untiringly ac- 
tive and ingenious in spying out and holding 
up wandering hostile bands, he had won the 
name of "The Red Freebooter." He was just 
returning from such an expedition. If his 
mother, the wife of a burgomaster, could have 
seen him, she would have been horrified. His 
head was shaved as bald as a rat, his beard 
was stubbly, his coat filthy, his trousers badly 
torn, and his boots trodden down. Half adozen 
pearl fowl, which he had shot on the way back, 
hung by a strap of fresh ox-hide over his shoul- 
der, and when he afterwards opened his coat 
a little I observed that on that day at least he 
was wearing no shirt. It was probably in the 
wringing hands of the spindle-legged bush- 
woman. He was very glad to see us, and, mak- 
ing fun of himself, told us about his present 


importance and his efficiency. Then he invited 
us to dinner. 

It was always the same when we met com- 
rades from another division. We always talked 
on three subjects: first, the enemy; second, 
the events in the army ; and, third, the various 
ways of cooking. After topics first and second 
had been sufficiently discussed, our host, with 
an important manner, led us to a place in the 
corner of the camp where a little thin smoke 
was issuing out of the ground. He took a 
piece of wood and carefully pushed aside the 
earth. Then appeared to our view two cooking- 
pans packed around with dry cow-dung which 
was smouldering a little. Two men came up 
and with great skill lifted from the hole the 
pans, which, the lieutenant informed us, had 
been standing in this heat for sixteen hours. 
Then he took off the cover and with great 
pride invited us to smell of the contents of the 
pans. It was a fine soup and the meat was 
well cooked, too. We had to praise it highly 
and we also liked it, but we were somewhat 
depressed that they and not we had made this 
great discovery. 


While we were sitting around, each one with 
his pan-cover in his hand, the red lieutenant 
gave us another surprise in the shape of a 
rather recent number of a South African news- 
paper. As it had already passed from hand to 
hand in this camp, it had become somewhat 
dirty and ragged. Still our lieutenant clutched 
it eagerly, spread it out, and looked, whether 
by chance or not, at the place where the new 
decorations are announced. Then looking up 
suddenly at the reduced officer, who was sit- 
ting as usual a little apart from us and staring 
at the ground in front of him, he called him 
by name and said : " Comrade, look here ! " 
The man started out of his reverie and came 
and knelt down behind the lieutenant, looking 
at the place which the latter pointed out. Then 
he began to breathe short and hard. The lieu- 
tenant looked at us and said softly : " He has 
just been suggested for decoration." At that 
the ex-officer could no longer hold back the 
violent sobs which he had been repressing. 
He wept, and we pressed around him and 
grasped his hand, our own eyes wet. Then he 


wrote a post-card to his wife and children and 
we had to sign our names: a linen-weaver from 
Upper Schleswig, a chimney-sweep from Ber- 
lin, a farm hand from Oldenburg, a Bavarian 
count, a locksmith's apprentice from Holstein, 
and others. 

We were all in a state of excitement over 
this occurrence when a guard came in from 
the cattle and reported : " Herr Lieutenant, 
the brindle cow wants to calve and can't." 
The red lieutenant looked much perplexed. 
"What!" said he, "Can't! Of course she 
can." Then we all laughed at him and were 
very jolly, and the farm hand from Oldenburg 
helped the cow. 

After that we rode on. The red lieutenant 
knew nothing of any good water-place; he said 
we must get used to going without water. 

In the afternoon, on the way back to our 
division, we overtook a provision train, with 
the leader of which our lieutenant talked for 
a while. The others chatted meanwhile with 
the guard, but I could not take my eyes off a 
driver who walked along near his oxen with 


long, dignified strides, his whip over his shoul- 
der. Behind him walked his wife with a little 
two-year-old child in a shawl on her back. 
Then came still in single file, graduated ac- 
cording to height, three more half-grown chil- 
dren. A pipe, the common property of the 
family, went from the man all along the line 
to the last little eight-year-old, who, after he 
had had a few pulls, took it back on the trot 
to his father. Only the smallest had not yet 
any interest in the pleasures of tobacco. From 
his seat on his mother's back he was trying, 
with some success, I believe, to reach her 
breast, which hung down long and flabby. 

As I rode along still reflecting on this pic- 
ture, the lieutenant called me and told me 
that, according to the story of the leader of 
the column, the head doctor, sick himself, and 
with a single sick companion and a black ser- 
vant, had passed on this road about an hour 
before in order to reach our division ; but now 
no more of their tracks were to be seen and 
it was feared that they had followed another 
path, which would not lead to a water-place. 


I was to ride on with two men in search of 
them and escort them to the division. 

I was much pleased with this commission 
and fulfilled it with especially good luck ; for 
when we had ridden about an hour, during 
which time I had examined, like an old hunter, 
every track which crossed our path, I dis- 
covered to my great joy that three riders had 
turned off the path, to the right, at a place 
that was sandy enough to show their track 
plainly. They were evidently trying to reach 
the camp by the shortest way, straight across 
the bush. We followed their course and soon 
saw the three lonely riders going along in front 
of us in the thin bush on their very weary 
horses. On the left rode the doctor, recogniz- 
able by his short, sturdy figure ; I had seen 
him several times before the last fight. His 
companion, who was riding at the right, hung 
in the saddle as though he were asleep ; now 
and then the doctor reached over to him as if 
to hold him or shake him up. The black ser- 
vant rode as leader some twenty yards in ad- 
vance. I shook my head in disapproval of the 


way the doctor had to ride with such a scanty 
escort and protection from hospital to hospital 
straight across this pathless, waterless country 
overrun by hostile tribes, and I put my tired 
horse into a trot. Therefore the black servant 
looked around and announced our approach. 
The doctor again gave his companion a cuff, 
turned his horse, and took his gun out of its 
rest. Since many of the enemy used to wear 
our uniforms and hats, and since our sunburned 
faces looked almost black, especially as the sun 
shone nearly vertically down on us, he took us 
for the moment for foes; but when we took 
off our hats, he recognized us. I now saw that 
the other man was very sick and could no 
longer hold himself properly in the saddle, and 
that the doctor himself, who at the fight four 
weeks before had looked well and fresh, was 
very much worn, and looked wearily and fe- 
verishly out of deep-sunken eyes. For the last 
six weeks he had ridden from one division to 
another, and yesterday and to-day had covered 
about forty miles; and he had not slept for 
twenty hours. While he was asking me where 


I came from and where I was going, and was 
drinking out of my water-sack, scolding the 
while at his black servant, who out of sheer 
indifference and laziness had not filled his 
water-sack, my men were helping his escort 
down from his horse. Soon by main force they 
lifted him back into his saddle and we rode 
slowly on again. 

Late in the evening we arrived dead tired 
at our division, which was spending the night 
by some dried-up water-holes. It was a very 
cold, unpleasant night. A sharp, cutting wind 
blew across the steppes and drove fine, dry 
sand over the thirsting men and animals. 

The following day we were overtaken by a 
thunder-storm. Dark clouds rose as if from all 
sides at once, heavy thunder rolled over the 
broad plain, gleaming whips of lightning quiv- 
ered across the whole sky, and rain poured in 
torrents. But after one hour all dampness was 
gone and a stormy wind blew the sand into 
our faces so that we could not open mouth or 
eyes. We protected ourselves in bivouac from 
the biting cold by putting up canvas as a 


screen against the wind. Behind this shelter 
we cooked our daily fare of tough meat and 
rice with bad water over a miserable fire. We 
talked little and gloomily. Far in the east were 
great clouds of smoke and flame. The enemy 
on their retreat into the desert were burning 
the sparse, dry fodder. 

The next forenoon we expected to find 
water at a place near the dried bed of a river. 
We found holes, but they were empty. Twenty 
men got down into them and dug them deeper, 
but no water came. So we could neither drink 
nor cook. The horses, too, could not graze 
without being watered first, for their parched 
mucous membranes could not digest the dry, 
coarse grass. There was nothing to do but go 
on. We dismounted, and, leading our horses, 
walked in a long weary train through deep, 
blowing sand, under hot sun, with burning 
throats. Occasionally a horse stumbled and 
his owner pulled him up again and talked to 
him kindly or roughly. In this way night 
came on and it grew dark. The ground was 
stony and we could no longer see the trail. 


We halted, stationed sentinels about us, lighted 
a few fires, and lay sleeping heavily on the 
ground. Our horses stood or lay near us by 
the fires. 

About midnight the moon rose slowly over 
the broad steppes. We called in the sentries, 
saddled, and went on ; and after three hours 
were close to the water-place which our scouts 
had found in reconnoitring. The moonlight 
was so brilliant that we could see the water- 
holes from a long distance lying like dark 
spots in the ghostly white limy surface. At 
one side stood single beautiful tall trees with 
two gray ant-hills bright in the moonlight. 
It looked like a splendid square, paved with 
marble, in the midst of a magnificent park, 
with statues under tall, still trees at one side 
of the square. The horses raised their heads 
and quickened their gait, and their sleepy, 
half-starved, cold riders came to life. The 
leaders of our party were now at the first 
water-hole ; but their horses turned away and 
went to the second and the third. Then the 
rest of us came up and noticed the odor of 


carrion, which, like a wicked, hidden monster, 
lay flat over the whole beautiful moonlit clear- 
ing, ready to devour us. The holes were full 
of decaying cattle. The horses stood there 
with drooping heads, and we near them, prop- 
ping ourselves up on our guns. Many a one, 
dead with sleep and weak from hunger, swayed 
as he stood. 

We had to go on to make use of the cool 
of the night. Then many a one thought : "If 
I had only stayed at home ! If I could be at 
home now, never again would I go away 1 " 
But his stumbling horse waked him out of his 
dream. And then after a few more faltering 
steps the poor animal would fall forward on 
his knees and lie there groaning. The rest 
would pass indifferently by him and his pros- 
trate horse, and then it meant : " Don't stand 
there so long ! Quick ! Take off the bag and 
sling it over your own shoulders ! " At that 
he would get wide awake, as if some one had 
said : " Behind you and on both sides under 
the dry bushes follows and lurks Death. 
Ahead, and there only, is life and a return 



home." He would stoop for the pack, take 
one more look into the eye of his horse, and 
trudge on. 

Along the path lay many little burnt-out 
fires, and near them all sorts of abandoned 
goods belonging to the enemy or stolen by 
them, especially clothes and saddles and 
Christian books which the missionaries had 
given or sold them. The whole way was be- 
strewn with cattle which had fallen dead. We 
had reached the path of the enemy's flight. 
A reconnoitring party came up with the news 
that our other division had surprised a part of 
the foe, pelted them with shell, and dispersed 

The next day we at last reached a good water* 
place and here joined the other division. Com* 
bining our forces, we were now going to attack 
the enemy, who were at the next and last water- 
place, and deal them a finishing blow. It was 
the general belief that there would be a battle 
just as severe and with as great loss as the one 
four weeks before. The general, wishing to see 
the united divisions all drawn up in battle 


array and also wishing to raise their spirits 
in expectation of battle, ordered a parade and 
religious services for the next day. 

We took up our positions in the broad clear- 
ing, — the horsemen, those who had to go on 
foot, and the artillery with the cannon. The 
oxen, the black drivers, the Cape wagons, and 
the sky over the wide steppes looked on. We 
stood in beautiful order, and it sounded very 
magnificent, the "Good-morning, soldiers!" 
"Good-morning, your Excellency ! " But the 
horses were thin, shaggy, and weary; our 
clothes and boots were torn ; and hunger and 
sickness stared many of us in the face. 

At four in the afternoon we assembled for 
the service. The chaplain had been with the 
other division all the time, so that I had seen 
him for the first time only a few days before. 
He was a big, strong man, and wore a uniform 
and high boots, just as we did. He sat in the 
saddle with his gun by his side and his car- 
tridge-belt around his waist. Even now when 
he stood before the chest, which was covered 
with a red cloth, he was in uniform and riding 


boots ; but he had a gold cross hanging on his 
breast and wore on his arm a blue and white 
band with a red cross on it. First we sang the 
song, " We come to pray before a just God." 
Then he began to speak. He said that a people 
savage by nature had rebelled against the 
authorities that God had set over them and 
besides had stained themselves with revolting 
murders. Then the authorities had given the 
sword, which we were to use on the morrow, 
into our hands. Might every man of us use it 
honorably, like a good soldier ! It was a serious 
hour. It might well be that one or another 
would not live till the next night. We would 
seek the face of God that He might bestow 
upon us of his eternal holiness, for to those 
who yield themselves to Him He has promised 
everlasting peace and rest. 

We realized that the chaplain was in earnest 
and believed himself every word he spoke, and 
we all knew that there would be a fight and 
that perhaps we were going to suffer a sudden 
death or painful wounds and sorrowful trans- 
port. And then there faced us all the hard, 


long, weary road through shocking diseases 
and gnawing hunger and torturing thirst be- 
fore we came again to our distant native land. 
Therefore we all listened with great serious- 
ness and then took off our hats for the prayer. 
At ten o'clock we got started. The country 
was rolling and covered with thin bosh. We 
went along the top of a low ridge and saw in 
the moonlight the beautiful soft lines of the 
hills; below in the low ground ran a broad 
bright stripe, the sandy bed of a river. It got 
to be four o'clock, then morning, and nothing 
was to be seen of the enemy. We thought, 
however, that we should see them when we 
reached the height in front of us, and in spite 
of the ever-increasing heat we went on. The 
van reached the height and disappeared. Not 
a shot. We saw that the artillery were taking 
the dust caps off their guns. A few shots were 
heard from a long way ahead. Now we reached 
the top. Nothing was to be seen of the enemy 
except below in the distance, where a heavy, 
monstrous cloud of dust was moving swiftly 
across the plain. Then it was clear that the 


proud nation had lost all courage and hope, 
and preferred to die in the desert rather than 
to fight any more with us. 

We rested a little by the water-holes which 
the enemy had left, and by their fires, which 
were still burning. Then, on weary horses, 
we pushed forward. Towards evening, as we 
passed along by the river bed, we came to a 
place where there should have been water. We 
found some old water-holes, and near them 
hundreds of new ones dug by the enemy the 
day before. They were twelve feet deep and 
even deeper, but they had no water in them. 

It was now reported that there was still a 
last water-place about five hours' ride further 
on, and that great numbers of the enemy were 
camping there. It was decided that we must 
drive them away; and we wanted to, for if 
we hunted them out of that place nothing 
remained to them but the wilderness. At one 
o'clock at night, tired riders and weary horses, 
we formed for the march. In seven hours we 
reached the place, but no water was there. 
From a hill we saw two mighty clouds of dust 


moving rapidly to the north and northeast, 
toward certain death from thirst. 

But we, too, had reached our limit. Every 
fourth man was sick with dysentery or typhoid 
fever ; the rest were exhausted from overex- 
ertion. Half our horses had fallen, our clothes 
and saddles were torn. We were seven hours 
from the nearest, poorly supplied water-holes 
and twenty-four hours from the better ones. 
The danger of getting hung up here on the 
border of the desert was not remote. Then the 
general ordered that we should give up the 

Still some scouts were to try to push on for 
a few hours more. Volunteers in plenty offered 
themselves even for this last hard expedition, 
as they always did for all scouting trips. As 
I was a good rider, I got the horse of a non- 
commissioned officer who had just slipped sick 
out of his saddle, and I rode out of camp with 
the party. A first lieutenant who looked like 
a scholar led us. We rode and rode ; then we 
rested an hour. When we had trotted pain- 
fully for ten minutes, we dismounted and led 


our horses, and we even resorted to having 
one man lead two horses while the other drove 
them along from behind. So we got on com- 
paratively fast. The lieutenant's voice was 
hoarse in his dry throat from commanding: 
"Dismount!" "Mount!" "Trot!" 

Several times we saw from some little eleva- 
tion the mass of dust which dragged slowly 
forward, but we got little nearer. We thought 
they would have to rest ; then we would come 
up to them with a last effort and frighten them 
by our sudden appearance and firing, and drive 
them still further into the desert. The sun was 
burning fiercely on the broad, desert country. 
My throat was so parched that every time I 
followed the impulse to swallow, I groaned 
softly with the pain. I had sometimes a sud- 
den feeling of fear that I must get away out 
of this terribly dry, hot air and scorching sun 
or I should all at once, with one fearful scream, 
lose my reason. I could not refrain from drink- 
ing my last drop of water and moistening my 
eyes with the damp sack. Soon after this one 
of our twenty men began to sway in his 


saddle and to murmur to himself. When I 
looked back to see how it was with the others, 
two or three were hanging pale and insensible 
in their saddles and others rode along with 
deep-sunken, closed eyes. The subordinate 
officer looked at me with a glance which seemed 
to say : " It is madness to ride any farther." 
Immediately afterwards the lieutenant called 
a halt and had five men dismount and lie down. 
We protected them from the heat with their 
cloaks and rode on. But after about an hour 
five or six of the party could no longer lead 
their horses ; their legs were like lead, and two 
were trembling in every limb and vomiting. 
We let them lie down and covered them up. 
They were hardly on the ground before they 
were sleeping like the dead. 

I noticed that the lieutenant was annoyed 
that he could not go on, although he himself 
could hardly speak. He stood and looked with 
the glass up the hill behind which the cloud 
of dust had vanished, hanging now only like 
a mist over the summit. He wanted very much 
for us to show ourselves on the top, in case the 


enemy had halted on the other side in the hope 
that the German troops had at last turned 
back. A home-guardsman who was in the party 
stepped up to him and said that his horse was 
probably strong enough to ride on two hours 
more, especially as it was getting toward even- 
ing. Then I, too, stepped forward and offered 
to ride with them. We arranged with the others 
that they should go back to the first five and 
wait there with them till ten o'clock. If we had 
not then returned, they were to avail them- 
selves of the remaining night hours to reach 
the camp. I had a secret opinion that the two 
would not give up their plan till they collapsed 
from over-exhaustion, and I wanted to be with 
them, for I thought I was stronger than either 
of them. 

After half an hour we started. We gave up 
leading our horses and stayed in the saddle. 
After a while three cows came toward us. 
They were awfully thin and lowed mournfully; 
one of them had been cut in the side with a 
knife, probably so that some one could drink 
the blood that flowed out. A little further on 


we found a goat lying by the way, and near it 
a boy with remarkably long, thin legs, as if 
they had stretched in death. We hardly turned 
our horses so that they should not tread on 
him. It is strange what a matter of indifference 
another man's life is to us when he belongs to 
another race. In half an hour or more we 
neared the height. The guardsman rode on 
ahead, his gun in his hand. The lieutenant 
and I followed. It was slow work. As I was 
peering by chance into some bushes about fifty 
yards off, which grew thicker together than the 
others, I saw among and under them people 
sitting in crowds, shoulder against shoulder, 
quite motionless. The heads of some drooped 
on their breasts and their arms hung down, as 
if they were asleep. Others sat leaning against 
a bush or a neighbor, breathing fast and hard, 
their mouths open ; they regarded us with stupid 
eyes. Some, women and children, had laid them- 
selves down across the legs and laps of those 
who were sitting. I quietly told my companions 
what I saw. They cast a long glance in the 
direction which I indicated, but said nothing. 


We rode on. The guardsman pointed once or 
twice into the bushes; I looked over there. 
Thus we reached the summit and then looked 
attentively out over the plain, which lay in 
boundless extent and absolute stillness, like a 
yellowish gray sea. The long rays of the set- 
ting sun lay upon it like strips of thin, bright- 
shining cloth. 

We sprang off our horses, loosened the girths, 
and lay down on the ground. The guard's horse 
began to sniff at his face, but he did not notice 
it; he was already asleep. The lieutenant stood 
up again and said to me : "Get up! If we fall 
asleep, we shall sleep all night and then we are 
lost." I rose, and we both stood awhile with 
benumbed senses in a state between sleeping 
and waking. The sun sank in a dull glow; the 
air grew cooler, and the horses got somewhat 
more lively and began with weary steps to 
nibble a few little bushes. 

After a while the Africander woke and asked 
in a woe-begone voice if I had a drop of water. 
I said: "No." He said: "The lieutenant has 
some, then." Again I said : " No." Then he 


said he could hold out no longer without water, 
— he had trusted too much to his strength, he 
should have to die here. The lieutenant, who 
had dozed standing by his horse and holding 
on to the saddle, woke and said consolingly : 
" Cheer up ! We shall start at once. Then we 
are off for home, for the war is now really 
over." "Yes," said the guardsman, "it is over; 
forty thousand of them are dead ; all their land 
belongs to us. But what good does all that do 
me? I must die here." He begged mournfully: 
" Have you not a single drop of water?" The 
lieutenant shook his head: " Tou know I have 
none. Best a little longer; it is night, and that 
will refresh us." The guardsman got up with 
difficulty and went with bent back down the 
slope to one side where there were some bushes. 
I said : "What does he want? I believe he is 
out of his senses and wants to search for water." 
At that moment there came from the bushes 
into which he had vanished a noise of cursing, 
running, and leaping. Immediately he reap- 
peared, holding by the hip a tall, thin negro 
dressed in European clothing. He tore the 


negro's gun from his hand and, swearing at 
him in a strange language, dragged him up to 
us and said : " The wretch has a German gun, 
but no more cartridges." The guardsman had 
now become quite lively, and began to talk 
to his captive, threatening him and kicking 
him in the knees. The negro crouched, and 
answered every question with a great flow of 
words and with quick, very agile and remark- 
able gestures of the arms and hands. "He 
says he has not taken part in the war." Then 
he asked him some more questions, pointing 
towards the east ; and the negro also pointed 
towards the east, answering all sorts of things 
of which I understood nothing. The guards- 
man said : " He is stuffing me with lies." This 
went on for some time. I can still hear the 
two dry, shrill voices of the German and the 
native. Apparently the guardsman at last 
learned enough, for he said : " The missionary 
said to me, 'Beloved, don't forget that the 
blacks are our brothers/ Now I will give my 
brother his reward." He pushed the black 
man off and said : " Bun away ! " The man 


sprang up and tried to get down across the 
clearing in long zigzag jumps, but be had not 
taken five leaps before the ball hit him and he 
pitched forward at full length and lay still. 

I grumbled a little; I thought the shot 
might attract to us the attention of hostile 
tribes who had perhaps stayed behind. But 
the lieutenant thought I meant it was not right 
for the guardsman to shoot the negro, and 
said in his thoughtful, scholarly way : " Safe 
is safe. He can't raise a gun against as any 
more, nor beget any more children to fight 
against us. The struggle for South Africa will 
still be a hard one, whether it is to belong to 
the Germans or to the blacks." 

The guardsman was leaning against his 
horse. He had a severe pain in his chest, and 
in a distressed voice said : " When we were 
sitting once by our fire there in the south, our 
captain said that two million Germans would 
live here, and their children would ride safely 
through the country and visit their playmates, 
stopping on the way to water their horses at 
these water-holes and at many new ones which 



would be dug everywhere. But I shall not see 
anything of it ; I am sick, very sick. Have n't 
you a single drop of water ? " He supported 
himself by the saddle and looked out with 
fixed eyes ovet the steppes, above which the 
stars were shining. 

The lieutenant talked to him, prevailed upon 
him to lie down, and covered him up with his 
cloak. He himself stood by his horse, beating 
time with his watch, which he held in his hand, 
in order to keep himself awake. So we both 
stood for a good while. Then he spoke : " These 
blacks have deserved death before God and 
man, not because they have murdered two hun- 
dred farmers and have revolted against us, but 
because they have built no houses and dug no 
wells." Then he fell to talking about home, 
and among other things said : " What we sang 
the day before yesterday in the service, ' We 
come to pray before God the just/ I under- 
stood in this way : God has let us conquer here 
because we are the nobler and more advanced 
people. That is not saying much in compari- 
son with this black nation, but we must see 


to it that we become better and braver before 
all nations of the earth. To the nobler and 
more vigorous belongs the world. That is the 
justice of God." 

The guardsman had gone to sleep. The 
lieutenant stood erect, his watch in his hand, 
swaying a little from time to time. I stood 
half asleep and half awake by the side of my 
horse. The moon rose and the night grew cold 
and windy. After a while the lieutenant spoke 
again : "But the missionary was right when 
he said that all men are brothers." 

" Then we have killed our brother/' said I, 
looking toward the dark body lying stretched 
in the grass. 

He looked up and said in a hoarse, painful 
voice : " For a long time we must be hard and 
kill, but at the same time as individual men 
we must strive toward high thoughts and 
noble deeds so that we may contribute our 
part to mankind, our future brothers." He 
gazed thoughtfully over the broad plain and 
looked again at the motionless body. 



After a while the lieutenant signified with 
a motion of the hand that we should break 
our rest. He went with heavy steps to the 
sleeping man, woke him, and with difficulty 
set him on his feet, and ordered me to pull up 
the girths. Then we helped the guardsman 
into the saddle, mounted ourselves, and rode 

Those whom we had left behind we found 
in a dead sleep ; the subordinate officer, on a 
saddle in their midst, alone sat watching. It 
was a tiresome ride the rest of the night. 
Some were continually begging for water; two 
had to be supported in their saddles. I myself 
know little of those hours ; my spirit was far 
away sleeping and dreaming. An hour after 
sunrise, when the heat was beginning to be 
oppressive, we reached the main body. They 
were preparing to break camp. The campaign 
was over. 



So we set forth out of the far east and marched 
westward toward the capital. Many more than 
half of us had to go on foot with packs over 
our shoulders. 

It was in the month of October, the time 
when in that region spring is advancing over 
the land. Rain and thunder-storms had passed 
violently over the plain and were still occur- 
ring. So new life was beginning to shoot 
up out of the earth that had looked so unfruit- 
ful. Flowers appeared in the long, yellowish 
grass and filled the air with their sweet, mild 
perfume. The loathed thorn-bush put on dark 
green leaves and snow-white blossoms. Many 
of us went up and plucked a gay branch from 
the hated plant. .The single, tall trees decked 
themselves out with long-stemmed yellow or 
lilac umbels; others had feathery flowers of 


snowy whiteness. And high, high above all the 
fresh green and the glorious pure white and 
the rich yellow, arched the cloudless blue sky. 
If we had been really well and had had enough 
to eat and had not had to pass the columns of 
sick transports and the new graves, it would 
have been indeed a beautiful journey. 

I had long liked the strange country, yet I 
did not want to stay in it; I would not give up 
my parents and my trade. Still, my mind was 
firmly made up to visit it again in after years, 
and I shall do so. There were not a few among 
us who liked the country better and better the 
more they learned to know it, and who seriously 
intended to stay and become farmers. If even 
a half of those carried out their intention, 
about five hundred of us would remain in the 

When we were still ten days' march from 
the capital and were sitting comfortably around 
our fire with better food — for a provision 
wagon had arrived with bacon and coffee and 
other good things — and were talking again 
about our joyous home-going! Henry Gehlsen 


came over to us from headquarters and told us 
that the Hottentots, who lived in the south, had 
risen, and that now a second campaign would 
begin which would probably be as hard as the 
one which had just ended ; at any rate, going 
home was not to be thought of. 

At that we became very still Then we gave 
vent to our amazement and began to rail. A 
Berlin soldier who was sitting with us came 
finally to a conclusion, saying : " Well, it is all 
the same to me, but my mother will scold." 
We discussed the matter for a long time and 
went to other mess companies, where we asked 
all sorts of questions and learned all sorts of 
things. Late in the evening a violent thunder- 
storm rose in the south till it reached the broad, 
dry river bed; flickering flashes of lightning 
filled the whole southern sky till after midnight. 
It was as if to let us know how severe the strug- 
gle would be which was in prospect down there. 
Towards morning the night got bitter cold 
and windy. 

The following morning the lieutenant with 
whom I had made the last scouting expedition 


asked me if I would escort him as fast as pos- 
sible to the capital ; he was sick, and did not 
want to break down on the road. I was only 
too ready, and rode with him as fast as our 
horses could go. On the third or fourth day 
it struck me that my heart was beating very 
loud and hard. I often pressed my hand against 
it and said, " What is the matter with you? Be 
quiet! " but it did no good. Nor did I think 
much of it when on the fourth or fifth day I 
fainted for the first time in my life. I had, too, 
plenty to do in holding the lieutenant on his 
saddle, for he had summoned the last remnant 
of his strength to finish this ride. When on 
the morning of the eighth day we were riding 
through the capital, the stabbing pain in my 
heart became unendurable. I managed to es- 
cort the lieutenant to the door of the hospital 
and then to ride at a walk up to the fort. But 
there I was lifted fainting from my horse by 
fellow-soldiers who came running up. They 
carried me into the hospital, where the doctor 
examined me. He said that I had contracted 
a weakness of the heart from long overstrain- ^ 


ing and especially from this last hard ride, and 
that I could not now live in a country with 
such a high altitude and such thin air j I must 
go home. 

So after I had lain for a week in the hospi- 
tal, I traveled by the little rattling railroad to 
the coast in four uncomfortable day- journeys 
in the small open beet cars ; and on the second 
day after my arrival there, I clambered in my 
guardsman's uniform with knapsack and cloak 
up the rope-ladder to the deck of the Wor- 
mann steamer. 

We were fifty men on board, most of us sick, 
some very sick. One had received a wound in 
the breast, and it was still suppurating. We 
often sat by him and carried him on his cot 
out into the sun and tried to comfort him. 
But he had no courage, and would lie brood- 
ing and sometimes softly crying. I do not 
know what became of him. Another, a day 
laborer's son from Pomerania, had lost a leg; 
he could already hobble about on crutches 
and he acted as if he were in good spirits. 
He said he could now sing the song which 


they often used to sing in the village school : 
" For all I am and have, I thank thee, my 
Fatherland/' But he frequently sat with a 
grave face in his long chair; he was only 
twenty-three years old. Still another had been 
sunstruck on a forced march and had ever 
since had fixed notions which grew worse all 
the time during the journey. He thought he 
was the king of South Africa, and wanted to 
order cannon in Germany. I have heard that 
afterwards he entirely recovered. The rest 
were almost all suffering from heart disease or 
had undergone a bad case of typhoid fever. 
We were all friendly with one another and 
agreed very well. There was only one, a Ber- 
liner, who became more unpopular every day; 
he had and knew and could do everything. 

I had saved up one hundred and fifty marks 
from my war bounty, and I spent it in pur- 
chase of a second-cabin passage. Henry Gehl- 
sen, who had got through a bad case of 
typhoid fever and was also going home, had 
suggested it to me. I was glad to do it, and 
have never regretted it. Whoever keeps up a 


ing and especially from this last hard ride, and 
that I could not now live in a country with 
such a high altitude and such thin air ; I must 
go home. 

So after I had lain for a week in the hospi- 
tal, I traveled by the little rattling railroad to 
the coast in four uncomfortable day- journeys 
in the small open beet cars ; and on the second 
day after my arrival there, I clambered in my 
guardsman's uniform with knapsack and cloak 
up the rope-ladder to the deck of the Wor- 
mann steamer. 

We were fifty men on board, most of us sick, 
some very sick. One had received a wound in 
the breast, and it was still suppurating. We 
often sat by him and carried him on his cot 
out into the sun and tried to comfort him. 
But he had no courage, and would lie brood- 
ing and sometimes softly crying. I do not 
know what became of him. Another, a day 
laborer's son from Pomerania, had lost a leg; 
he could already hobble about on crutches 
and he acted as if he were in good spirits. 
He said he could now sing the song which 


they often used to sing in the village school : 
" For all I am and have, I thank thee, my 
Fatherland." But he frequently sat with a 
grave face in his long chair ; he was only 
twenty-three years old. Still another had been 
sunstruck on a forced march and had ever 
since had fixed notions which grew worse all 
the time during the journey. He thought he 
was the king of South Africa, and wanted to 
order cannon in Germany. I have heard that 
afterwards he entirely recovered. The rest 
were almost all suffering from heart disease or 
had undergone a bad case of typhoid fever. 
We were all friendly with one another and 
agreed very well. There was only one, a Ber- 
liner, who became more unpopular every day; 
he had and knew and could do everything. 

I had saved up one hundred and fifty marks 
from my war bounty, and I spent it in pur- 
chase of a second-cabin passage. Henry Gehl- 
sen, who had got through a bad case of 
typhoid fever and was also going home, had 
suggested it to me. I was glad to do it, and 
have never regretted it. Whoever keeps up a 


respectable outward appearance will by that 
very means be helped to succeed better in 
everything else, too. I associated mostly with 
Gehlsen and a gunner in the navy, whose duty 
it was to serve the armor-plated turret on a 
man-of-war. He had been with Gehlsen and 
me in our first bad fight. He was a broad- 
shouldered, genial man, full of jokes and drol- 
lery. I liked him especially because he gave 
the benefit of his continual and great humor 
not only to the well but particularly to the in- 
valid fellows. Although almost all had some 
sort of injury, we were nevertheless all joy- 
ful over our return. As far as to the coast of 
Spain the deck witnessed much joking, sing- 
ing, and nonsense. I myself could contribute 
nothing to it, but I enjoyed it all very much. 
We were exceedingly happy when we saw 
the coast of England again. Just after that 
we met the first German ship, a little slender 
cruiser of our navy, still quite new. It steamed 
energetically by. At evening the next day a 
Wormann steamer came toward us which had 
on board troops for the campaign against the 


Hottentots. They stood by the rail in their 
big gray cloaks and soft hats, and shouted 
across to us. 

The next evening, about five o'clock, we 
neared Cuxhaven ; we plainly saw it lying in 
the twilight. Although the weather was biting 
cold, we stood at the rail for a long time, 
wrapped in our thick coats. Only when it was 
quite dark did we go below. About one o'clock 
at night we made fast to the Petersen quay at 
Hamburg, but we stayed on board over night. 

In the forenoon the physician came and 
looked every one of us over. Then the very 
sick men went ashore ; then we. I went with 
permission into the city to visit my uncle who 
lives in St. Pauli. I was to travel in the after- 
noon to Kiel to report myself and get my 

When I was sauntering along the Jung- 
f ernstieg in my worn-out, dirty cord uniform, 
with dark, sunburned face, a middle-aged man 
came up and joined me, and asked me all sorts 
of questions as we went along. In the course 
of the conversation it came out that I had 



heard of him in my father's house; for he had 
known my father from childhood. I related to 
him all that I had seen and experienced, and 
what I had thought of it all. And he has made 
this book out of it 

U . 8 . A 



' ■ or before the date last stamped t 

turned uu 
tamped below I 


-^ /